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Users helped us uncover a range of design opportunities that private messaging platforms should consider to improve trustworthiness.

These design opportunities are presented as areas where platform providers can increase user trustworthiness while reducing exposure to the harms. We feature seven design opportunities that emerged from our research along with representative ideas for how these changes might be implemented. They are meant to be illustrative and likely come with other tradeoffs in practice that only private messaging platform providers will be able to solve for. These ideas were lightly tested with users in most cases.

Design Principles

Across the design opportunities we identified a common set of principles to guide the design of features to improve the trustworthiness, privacy, and security of private messaging platforms. While these design principles are cross-cutting they address specific pain points within each opportunity.


As you explore the design opportunities you will see what design principles apply to each opportunity and the specific pain points they address.

Design  Principle 1

Surface information related to trust, privacy and security so that it is accessible to users in the places and moments that it is most relevant and actionable to them

Design  Principle 4

Offer flexibility so that users can tailor their trust, privacy and security preferences to specific relationships at the level of granularity that is most meaningful to them

Make redressal paths simple and clear so users know who to turn to and what to expect when concerns arise

Design Principle 7

Extend user control over privacy and security into all aspects of the platform experience where they feel at risk

Design Principle 2

Instill a common mental model for how trust and security should work to cement safer practices in communications

Design Principle 5
Design Principle 3

Default to a high/the highest level of security whenever possible while providing easy and timely access for users to adjust their preferences to suit specific situations

Design Principle 6

Communicate issues related to privacy and security in simple, user-friendly language so users always understand what is at stake, and can make informed decisions

Opportunities At A Glance

While users are looking for progress on many fronts, addressing the design opportunities here can be an important step for platform providers to signal their willingness to commit to positive change.


Securing and/ or Modifying 

Account Information


Easy access to personal identifying data

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Improving Verification

& Permission Mechanisms


Limited verification and consent-focused features for contacts and groups


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Providing Accessible & Tailored

Security & Privacy Controls


Generalized and hidden privacy & security controls for contacts & groups


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Managing Access to Modified 

& Third Party Supporting Platforms


Existence of modified (MOD) & third party supporting apps ecosystem


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Providing User Support Mechanisms & Emergency Controls


Limited user support and lack of adequate reporting mechanisms


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Improving Administrative 

& Management Tools


Limited content management tools


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Providing Data Use Transparency & Managing Data Access


Lack of transparency regarding access to user data

How are Harms to User Trustworthiness Addressed Through These Design Opportunities?

While not all design opportunities will have an impact on all harms, some design opportunities can impact multiple harms.

The chart below presents a summary view of the specific design opportunities that would impact each harm.

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