What Happened to Trust?

Five years ago, I was coming off my stint as entrepreneur in residence with the United States Health & Human Services through a program established by the White House, and Jen was running a large association for at-risk children. We were living life at the center of the trust and safety space for two of the most vulnerable groups in our population.

At the same time, we were noticing many fundamental shifts in society relating to trust and safety. It had become commonplace and acceptable for people to use technology to arrange real-life meetings. Tinder, Uber, and TaskRabbit had become ubiquitous and were the most used apps of our time. The Black Lives Matter movement had emerged out of necessity, as black citizens were being killed in record number, and it was all being captured on video. ISIS had become a grave concern - anyone could watch people being beheaded on YouTube.

Scott Pruitt, a symbold of changing standards concerning trust. He is currently under fire for his expenditures as EPA Administrator, and for his problematic housing arangements. Credit: Gage Skidmore

According to our conversations with over half of the state Attorneys General, there are now three grave and rapidly-growing crime epidemics in our nation: sex trafficking, opioid abuse, and cyber crimes. The trafficking of humans for sexual purposes has grown faster than the drug trade ever did. We recently heard one state’s Attorney General attempt to surmise this phenomena by saying, “Organized criminals and cartels quickly realized that with drugs, they can only sell their product one time to one customer. However, with sex trafficking, they get to reuse the ‘product’ over and over and over again. It’s a higher return on investment.” To this day, that statement hits me in the pit of my stomach. Still, drug abuse is a major issue. The friendly neighbor and the librarian at the local elementary school have found themselves hooked on opioids. When they can no longer score vicodin or oxycontin, they resort to buying heroin on the street.

“Organized criminals and cartels quickly realized that with drugs, they can only sell their product one time to one customer. However, with sex trafficking, they get to reuse the ‘product’ over and over and over again. It’s a higher return on investment.”

Cyber crimes are also becoming a particular point of focus today. Low-tech sex offenders and child molesters continue to use the internet to prey on our children, only now they are bolder and more sophisticated. Sexploitation is the latest trend among pedophiles. They pose as a peer online and contact our children via social media or through a chat app. They start off asking for a fairly innocuous, yet potentially embarrassing photo under some clever guise. Once they receive it, they use it to extort more revealing photos under the threat of sending the last photo to all of their friends.

Perhaps less grave but still telling of the human condition, “alternative facts” have become part of our nation’s collective vernacular as did playing “chicken” with nukes on Twitter. “Puffery” is now used as a term to describe the amount of dishonesty that corporate advertisers are legally allowed to do us. Unfortunately, puffery has now extended to our resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and Instagram feeds too.

These kinds of facts are uncomfortable — but they are the reality our society is facing. As we began to observe all of these developments, the world suddenly felt like a much, much scarier place. Could we trust anyone anymore? Could we even go to school, a concert, or movie theater and feel safe? The world was spiraling out of control.

Our Collective Perception of Truth

Fast-forward a couple of years, and now these same feelings have gone up another notch for us collectively as a society. The daily news reports a story of the latest massive data breach or the president’s latest “untruth”, alleged ties to Russia, or game of “nuclear chicken” with North Korea via Twitter. All of this would have been unheard of while growing up in the eighties. From Wall Street CEOs and Investment bankers to politicians and non-profits, fraud is a global issue that’s ramping up, not winding down, with trillions of dollars in the balance.

We’ve primed the pump to test what’s acceptable and how long people are willing to stand dishonesty. The widespread fear is that there’s no going back, that things will just keep getting worse.

Whether or not the world is really less trustworthy is impossible to measure, and perhaps beside the point. Still, the fact is that our collective perception of trust and safety has taken a serious hit.

It’s difficult to trust anything or anyone when dishonesty is coming at us from every angle. Whether it’s politicians lying and providing “alternative facts,” endless stories of celebs schtupping the nanny, or high divorce rates all around, there’s a seeming decline in trust in all aspects of modern life and society.

Whether it’s politicians lying and providing “alternative facts,” endless stories of celebs schtupping the nanny, or high divorce rates all around, there’s a seeming decline in trust in all aspects of modern life and society.

Jen and I started Trustify as an answer to these trends — a way to make services that ensure truth, trust and safety are available to all. For those that cannot afford to pay, we even offer pro-bono services through partnerships with organizations like Becky’s Fund, a wonderful non-profit that supports survivors of domestic violence.

Trust is decaying — but it doesn’t have to be that way. Through a combination of faith and due diligence, we can navigate the turbulent times ahead. As President Reagan once said, “Trust — but verify”. Those words guide us.

About Trustify

Trustify is on a mission to bring truth, trust and safety to everyone by making intelligence agents and private investigators more accessible, affordable and transparent. People and organizations who feel unsafe, threatened or defrauded, and need an honest, reliable ally, consistently depend on Trustify in their search for the truth. For more information, visit www.trustify.info.