April 2, 2023

Spotlight: Trust & Safety at TextNow

Written by kevin-c


One of the most important – maybe even the most important – jobs here at TextNow are the ones held by our Trust & Safety team.

But, wait, what’s a Trust & Safety team do, anyway? For the answer we went to our Sr. Product Manager at Trust & Safety, Laura de la Fe (She/They) to get an inside look at how Trust & Safety work to make TextNow a better product for everybody.

Hi Laura! Can you tell us a little about the Trust & Safety team here?

A trust & safety team is tasked with creating a safe environment for our users, one they can trust to use without interference from fraud, harassment, and offensive content. As the senior product manager, it’s my task to keep our development team abreast of current fraudulent schemes around the internet, and work with them to help attack spammers, scammers and other bad actors looking to abuse our platform.

Sounds like a tough job

It is. Not just at TextNow – every communications app or service, whether they’re carriers or social media platforms, have the same problems. The tricky part is how to block people who are using our platform for nefarious purposes, while still providing a robust service and experience for legitimate users.

What makes that particularly difficult?

Many things, really. Because we don’t read our users messages or listen to their phone calls, for obvious personal privacy reasons. That means we rely on metadata to find fraudsters. There’s a whole system of weighing activity from a user account based on things like length of calls, or frequency of texts, and other considerations. We also have software that can alert us to certain keywords being used by accounts.

Let’s say, for example, a spammer uses their account to spam out a hundred messages in five minutes to a specific number. We don’t know what the messages say, we just know the number, time, and frequency of messages. So that behavior might indeed be intentionally spamming. Or it could be a perfectly legitimate use of TextNow – for example they might be a parent who is texting their child repeatedly out of worry. What the Trust & Safety team does is try to come up with procedures and policies to separate the good from the bad.

Plus, I assume scammers are continually coming up with new ways to abuse telecommunication systems.

Yes, they are. We try to stay on top of the latest scams and schemes, but technology moves quickly.

What’s one thing you wish people knew about TextNow?

That we are very serious about our mission statement. We want to democratize communication for everyone, which means providing a safe experience for our users. It’s a constant struggle to rid our platform of bad actors, but it must be done to make our vision of communication a reality.

And what's your favorite thing about working at TextNow?

There’s so much I love about this place. I work with the best people, and our corporate culture allows me to be my true authentic self here.