At Vivastreet, we are committed to being a responsible business. That means operating our platform in a responsible way, promoting safety and security and working collaboratively with partners.
Providing a safe platform for legal advertising is our top priority. We are committed to eradicating any potential fraud or exploitation from our platform, and we have a wide range of measures in place to detect and remove potentially problematic material. To help you buy and sell safely, we have teamed up with Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and internet crime reporting centre. Visit our Safety Centre for our top tips and advice to ensure you have the safest possible experience when using Vivastreet.
We stand against exploitation in all its forms. Over the years, we have put in place strong measures to prevent our platform from being used by traffickers. We have a robust and multi-stage risk assessment process in place for all accounts on our site, to ensure that we are protecting our users and detecting and eradicating illegal or inappropriate use of our platform. However, we recognise that the online space is challenging to police, as technology is improving all the time, and we’re committed to continually improving our safeguarding measures.
We report any suspicious content to the relevant law enforcement bodies or via our long-term partnership with National Ugly Mugs, a specialist charity that works with police forces across the country. We work with law enforcement to detect potential criminality, remove bad actors from our platform and, where relevant, assist with prosecutions. We constantly evaluate our policies, and where we are asked to do so by the police, we take steps to block users identified as high risk. We undertake to provide information in response to police requests within 48 hours, and we have a mailbox that is monitored 24/7 for police inquiries, so that officers can contact us in relation to cases where they believe there is an imminent threat to safety.
In order to help users report concerns they may have about advertisers, Vivastreet has partnered with Unseen, the charity that operates the national Modern Slavery Helpline. All our adverts include an option for visitors to flag concerns about the advertiser, which directs visitors to a landing page curated by Unseen that sets out trafficking indicators and encourages users to report their concerns. We work with Unseen to analyse the data from referrals to the Helpline via this process, so that we can further optimise our detection and moderation systems.
All our customer facing and compliance staff receive training from the charity Stop the Traffik to raise awareness of the signs of modern slavery and human trafficking and how to disrupt them.
We are committed to keeping children safe. You must be 18 years of age or older to register or use the services available from Vivastreet. We use Yoti, a third party verification system that includes enhanced phone, email and age verification, for advertisers on our site who fall into certain higher-risk groups.
Sex worker safety
Independent sex work is lawful in the UK and we support those who want to work legally in the industry. We understand that one of the reasons many sex workers use our platform to advertise online is that it creates a safer environment in which to operate and vet clients. We supplement this by providing all those who place an advert with us the option of becoming members of the charity National Ugly Mugs. Membership provides sex workers with access to NUM’s online warning system, as well as help with reporting incidents. We also provide funding and support to ClientEye, a sex worker-led app that allows workers to report abuse or harassment from clients to each other.
Sex worker wellbeing
We aim to empower legitimate sex workers by providing them with the tools to run their business safely and without judgement. The health and wellbeing of those who advertise on our site is very important to us, which is why we have created our Support Services Hub where advertisers can find links to specialist charities and organisations who can provide advice and support on everything from health and safety through to financial, legal and employment issues. We offer free banner advertising to local sex worker safety and outreach organisations on our website. These banners are displayed to sex workers as they fill out their advertisement.
We recognise that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge financial impact on some of our customers, which is why we have provided over £135,000 of funding to non-profit organisations over the last year, to help alleviate financial hardship. We also have a strategic partnership with IncomeMax, a social enterprise that helps people maximise their household income, helping people to claim additional benefits, grants and services that they may not have been aware they’re entitled to. They offer a completely confidential, free of charge, service, working with individuals to review their existing income and expenditure, and assess where any spending could be reduced, for example through tariff changes, utility schemes or even charity grants. All Vivastreet users can access this support service and – through the partnership – we have identified over £500,000 of funding that our users were entitled to.
We also recognise that some of our users may wish to transition away from sex work and we are working with the charity, Umbrella Lane, on a new pilot programme that offers holistic support for those who want to move out of the industry.