All About Trust and Reputation in the Digital World

Tag: Reputation

7 Insights About Trust and Reputation in the Digital World

7 insights about trust and reputation-in-the-digital-world

  • One of the major and persistent threats to human well-being in the digital world is related to trust and reputation management; that is because while an ever-growing chunk of our daily life takes place in the digital world, this world has glaring weaknesses when it comes to trust and reputation management which makes it prone to fake news, fake reviews, digital identity theft, digital privacy breach, digital scamming, etc.
  • One of the most serious weaknesses of online trust and reputation management is the fact that trust and reputation management is very often a minor afterthought feature; moreover, the management is highly fragmented and scattered within a myriad of independent online services; instead, a comprehensive and unified approach built from the ground up is needed.
  • Human societies are organized hierarchically, and the basis of the hierarchy is trust, therefore trust and reputation management in the digital world should also be organized hierarchically; the hierarchy should be based on sincerity and experience/expertise, on a topic basis.
  • For the human brain, opinions, evaluations, and recommendations are much more useful than mere information because they have a big impact on trust inference. Trust inference encourages risk-taking and decision-making. Therefore, as far as online trust and reputation management is concerned, schemes based on opinions, evaluations, recommendations, and ratings should be used whenever this is possible.
  • There is a need to combine artificial intelligence with human intelligence in order to manage efficiently online trust and reputation by ensuring total transparency and traceability as to the estimate of trust and reputation and thus providing a trust assessment that is trustworthy; such would not be the case with a pure artificial intelligence approach.
  • The fundamental and unsolvable problem of existing social networks is that originally they were designed as networks, in other words with a focus on connecting people; their designers were oblivious to the fact that by connecting people, they create “virtual human societies”, opening the door to many “social” issues, including trust and reputation issues.
  • There is an urgent need to develop a new, more mature generation of social networks, centered on positive emotions: trust, empathy, kindness, gratitude, etc. as a response to the flaws of existing social networks; in particular the fact that they thrive to a significant extent on negative emotions: jealousy, anger, hatred, contempt, distrust, etc.

Rafik Hanibeche & Adel Amri (Trustiser Founders)

The Dataobsessed or The Digital Reputation Obsession

The Datasexual or the Digital Reputation Obsession

One of the fascinating phenomena in the digital world is the dataobsessed, a person who is obsessed with his digital reputation.  The dataobsessed aims to embellish his social image in the digital world by investing time and effort in posting, on a regular basis, personal information to create an embellished personal narrative and make others think he is more successful than he really is.

The dataobsessed worships his digital ego, running the risk of being drowned in a narcissistic whirlpool.  He is committed to lifelogging and shares any item of personal information.  To that end, he monitors everything (his body, his surroundings, his friends and acquaintances, his presence in every physical and digital arena, etc.) and share row information and statistics to impress others.

The dataobsessed is an obsessive self-tracker and has an inclination to publish vanity metrics such as heart rate, weight, number of steps taken each day, number of followers on Twitter, number of friends on Facebook, number of followers on Instagram, number of followers and published articles on LinkedIn, etc..

Technologies like smart clothing and wearable computers will only amplify the dataobsessed phenomenon as they will usher in a new era in which ultra-connected dataobsesseds will have the possibility to share continuously information and statistics, for better or for worse.    

Rafik Hanibeche & Adel Amri (Trustiser Founders)

Trust and Reputation in Healthcare Social Networks

trust-and-reputation-in-healthcare-social-networks - Trustiser

Healthcare social networks are gaining prominence as an essential environment for sharing health-related experiences and best practices, discussing symptoms and drug side effects, and exchanging ideas about treatment options.  Healthcare social networks can be either aimed at physicians or patients.

Physician social networks, such as Sermo, offer doctors the possibility to share clinical cases and medical knowledge.  The benefits for physicians are tremendous: they can solve problems more efficiently by making informed decisions, collaborate on difficult cases, and  get early insights into treatment developments.

Patient social networks, such as PatientsLikeMe, offer patients and caregivers, in a supportive environment, information about diseases, knowledge about symptoms and treatments, and patients’ health-related experiences and personal stories.

One of the biggest concerns about healthcare social networks is trust. This doesn’t come as a surprise, given the impact that the content of healthcare social networks may have on patients’ health and on the doctor-patient relationship.  The core question is to what extent can healthcare social networks’ users ( physicians and patients alike) trust the content of those social networks.  The shortcomings are many, for example, most patient social networks publish users’ comments and medical advices without verifying their validity.  They only announce that their content should not be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment and recommend that patients seek the advice of physicians or other qualified health providers.

In order to address the trust  issue, both physician social networks and patient social networks are working hard to add relevant trust and reputation features.  For example, physicians on Sermo rank each observation’s pertinence. Sermo also offers financial incentives to encourage evaluative commentary.  Nevertheless, existing trust and reputation features fall short of what is required for such services. We do think that healthcare social networks should place trust and reputation management at the heart of their services by opting for a hierarchical social network organization.  The hierarchies have to be based on trust with regard to each member’s experience and expertise in relation to specific healthcare topics.

Rafik Hanibeche & Adel Amri (Trustiser Founders)

Peeple, A Cautionary Tale About Rating People

Peeple A Cautionary Tale About Rating People

The announcement, in late September, of an unreleased app (called Peeple) that aims to allow individuals to rate each other triggered a huge media frenzy (both in traditional media and social media) about the toxic nature of this app.

Peeple, as described by its founders, will give the possibility to rate individuals, with a 1-to-5 star rating system, and provide review from three different angles: personal, professional, or romantic. The traditional media and social media reaction was extremely negative, they deem the app a total disaster that will take cyberbullying and harassment to a whole new level. Critics from all over the digital world pointed out how the app will do more harm than good. Peeple’s founders got death threats; their social media accounts were hacked; their private photos were leaked. At some point, even cops and the cybercrimes unit were involved.

Peeple’s founders for sure made some glaring mistakes both from a design and communication standpoint. Talking about an app that deals with sensitive issues, such as privacy and reputation, before getting any feedback from potential users and iterating to build a product people would love is a misstep of Everest proportions. Discussing in major media about features that, if they are not put in context, would alarm any sensible user (like the impossibility to opt-out from the service and the absence of any form of consent from those subjected to rating and evaluation) is another blunder.

But at the same time, we were surprised by the fact that this app was unanimously vilified, the main argument being we cannot rate people or judge their personality and behavior. But the fact of the matter is that the digital world is full of services that allow to rate people and judge their traits and behaviors. Actually all the services related to the so-called sharing economy (you know Uber, Airbnb and the likes) include comprehensive rating systems. More than that, it is an essential feature to foster trust and reputation among their communities and exclude dishonest and ill-mannered individuals.

Rafik Hanibeche & Adel Amri (Trustiser Founders)

Our Most Popular Posts

Our Most Popular Posts

It has been 3 years since we launched this blog. More than 20 posts have been published, touching on a wide range of topics in relation to trust and reputation in the digital world. While we are looking forward to continue to provide thoughts, analysis, and studies’ findings about trust and reputation in the ever growing digital world, we would like to highlight in this post the most popular posts of the past 3 years.

1. The 10 Commandments of Digital Exodus (June 2013)

2. Rating the Raters (September 2012)

3. Digital Genome Sequencing (March 2014)

4. The Trust Quadrant (October 2014)

5. Humans, Trust and Reputation (October 2012)

6. Trust, Reputation and Digital Dualism (Decenber 2013)

7. Can We Trust the Crowd Miners? (April 2013)

8. The Rise of the Digital Advisor (February 2015)

Many thanks to all our readers,

Rafik Hanibeche & Adel Amri (Trustiser Founders)

Unsourcing, Trust and Reputation

Unsourcing trust and reputation

One of the emerging trends in the digital world is unsourcing, where companies transfer key business functions from paid employees to unpaid volunteers, such as customers on social networks.  An example of unsourcing is social support where unpaid volunteers are in charge of product support.

The benefits for businesses are threefold: reducing costs, improving customer satisfaction and mobilizing customers that are keen on their products, services, or brands to spread the word.

The benefit for volunteers is the ability to create a positive social image, and gain recognition and prestige by answering questions, assisting customers in solving problems and boosting their digital influence.

However, unsourcing poses an important challenge.  It requires a comprehensive trust and reputation management framework in order to attract reliable, knowledgeable and productive volunteers by creating and maintaining hierarchies of volunteers that are trust-based, competence-related and social image-driven.

Rafik Hanibeche & Adel Amri (Trustiser Founders)

Digital Genome Sequencing – An Efficient Way to Manage Trust and Reputation

Digital Genome Sequencing

As we go about our everyday lives, working, trading, playing, training, etc., we leave behind digital traces that collectively form our digital genome.  Digital genome sequencing aims to analyze and interpret digital footprints left by our daily activities.  It uses big data tools and methods to extract crucial insights and decipher relevant patterns. 

Of particular interest is digital genome sequencing as a means to manage trust and reputation in an unprecedented way. Indeed, properly monitoring and analyzing the digital genome of an individual is an efficient approach to assess the trust and reputation that can be placed in him with regard to various themes, in the same way that physical genome sequencing determines the physical quirks, characteristics and traits of an individual.

Digital genome sequencing to manage trust and reputation is at the intersection of computer science, social sciences, and statistics.  It analyzes activities and relations in digital arenas such as social networks, digital marketplaces, and forums.  It takes into account academic degrees, career paths, professional records, and publications.  It uses geographic locations and interprets social and credit scores.  It tracks online individual and collaborative phony activities.

In this context, the biggest challenge will be dealing with individual privacy, but as the digital world is taking a bigger and bigger chunk of our lives, we will be more and more willing to trade some of our privacy for a substantial improvement in trust and reputation management among the participants in the increasingly critical digital life.    

Rafik Hanibeche & Adel Amri (Trustiser Founders)

Crowdfunding, Keeping Digital Criminals at Bay

Crowdfunding Keeping Digital Criminals at Bay

As crowdfunding is gaining popularity as a means of raising money in the digital world, thanks to the rules under consideration by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission under the 2012 JOBS Act, trust and reputation management in relation to online collaborative funding is becoming a serious issue.  Indeed, both donation-based crowdfunding and investment-based crowdfunding attract digital criminals.

More precisely, donation-based crowdfunding services, provided by sites such as Kickstarter and Fundly, and investment-based crowdfunding services, provided by sites like AngelList and MicroVentures, are prone to:

  • digital scamming where scammers create fake projects to steal money from the backers.  In one case last year, one large crowdfunding site almost handed over $120,000 to a fake start-up.  There were more than 3,000 backers involved;
  • digital money-laundering where  “dirty” money coming from criminal activities is invested through equity, debt, or tax deductible donations.

In this context, proper trust and reputation management strategies should be implemented by crowdfunding sites.  In our view, an efficient trust and reputation strategy, that aims to detect fraudsters preemptively, has to combine:

  • human intelligence-based approaches that implement formal due diligence and vetting processes;
  • algorithmic-based approaches that automatically analyze the credentials provided by each participant,  monitor the participants’ activities and reputation in digital arenas such as social networks and digital marketplaces, and whenever possible check their track records within other crowdfunding sites. 

Rafik Hanibeche & Adel Amri (Trustiser Founders)

Trust, Reputation and Digital Dualism

Trust, Reputation and Digital Dualism

Digital dualism is defined by social media theorist Nathan Jurgenson as the belief that the digital and physical worlds are separated, with the physical world being fully real and the digital world being virtual.  The digital dualists posit that the two worlds are engaged in a competition (for time, attention, participation, etc.). In their view, the physical and digital worlds are not complementary.  Nathan Jurgenson rejects digital dualism as a fallacy.  He argues that what happens in one world has direct effects in the other world.

We completely agree with Nathan Jurgenson.  From a reputation standpoint, what happens in the digital world has a direct impact on the reputation of individuals, businesses, and institutions in the physical world.  Indeed, over the past few years, we have witnessed countless situations where a bad reputation in the digital world wrecked careers, drove companies out of business and even led to appalling consequences such as the suicide of cyberbullied teenagers.

Conversely, what happens in the physical world has a great impact on trust and reputation in the digital world.  For example, customers’ experience (good or bad) with businesses and institutions in the physical world (e.g., restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, healthcare institutions, education institutions) translates into reputation in the digital world, thanks to online services such as those provided by review sites.    

Rafik Hanibeche & Adel Amri (Trustiser Founders)

The 10 Commandments of Digital Exodus

The 10 Commandments of Digital Exodus

A socio-cultural revolution, unprecedented in human history, is well underway, thanks to the acceleration of the exodus of human activities (trade, finance, education, entertainment, etc.) to the digital world.  It’s the Digital Exodus.

In this post, we would like to share with you what we think are the 10 commandments that govern the Digital Exodus.

  1. You should not steal others’ identities or use pseudonyms; you should instead reveal your real identity  in order to foster trust because trust is the foundation upon which human activities are based.
  2. You should not worship your digital ego, otherwise you will run the risk of being drowned in a narcissistic whirlpool.
  3. You should not say or write something that you are unable to justify, or at least put in context, the rest of your life because the digital world has a memory that lasts forever and remembers everything.
  4. You should not forget that you are outfitted with a virtual megaphone and that the opinions you express can be potentially heard by every person on the planet and, for better or for worse, ignite reactions.
  5. You should not overlook your digital reputation; you should strive to have the best reputation in every digital arena you go to.
  6. You should not ignore the wisdom of crowds and you should, at the same time, avoid the herd mentality.
  7. You should not be solitary; you should collaborate because collaboration is the essence of the digital world with countless participants involved in creating new knowledge and enhancing the intelligence of both individuals and groups.
  8. You should not hide your intellectual property, unless it represents a major breakthrough leading to revolutionary transformations; you should instead share your ideas, designs, and developments and let the digital world embrace and promote your creativity.  It is the best way to achieve whatever you are aiming for.
  9. You should not seek flash (immediate) monetization; you should instead contribute in an outstanding way to create a strong, competence-based reputation, gain recognition, and then capitalize on your reputation.
  10. You should not miss the revolving wave of the evanescent present so that your contributions to the digital world remain relevant to the dynamics of the “global brain”.

Rafik Hanibeche & Adel Amri (Trustiser Founders)

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