It can be challenging to confidently rely on complete strangers. An emerging online service named TrustCloud provides a way to measure trustworthiness so users can estimate how another person will behave.

A FICO score measures how successfully people handle their finances. An eBay score shows how reliable a buyer or seller has been in the past. TrustCloud attempts to provide an idea of how trustworthy a person is, because people need to be confident in others to participate in the sharing economy.

According to the Understand TrustCloud webpage, "TrustCloud gives members in the Sharing Economy the tools for Trust and Accountability that enable better decision-making and improves every transaction." TrustCloud believes that there is enough data generated from online activity to determine how a person will behave. A person's trustworthiness rating is called a TrustScore and is measured on a scale of 1 to 1000. This rating represents overall trustworthiness by incorporating universal values such as consistency, generosity, and transparency. 

Each TrustScore is generated from a unique three-layer method to measure trustworthiness. The first layer, which contributes 40% to the overall TrustScore, is the verification layer. This layer verifies identity by multiple e-mail, snail mail, and SMS confirmations. "Transparency is a simple, but powerful indicator that you are who you claim to be – not a bot."

The second layer, contributing 20% to the TrustScore, is the behavior layer. This layer gathers data from social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. TrustCloud's proprietary algorithms survey behaviors like responsiveness, consistency, and longevity. Longterm social behavior is revealed through the inclusion of data from online social networking websites and predicts how a person would conduct oneself in a sharing community.

The third layer, which contributes the final 40% to the TrustScore, analyzes transactional data, such as ratings and endorsements. These come from sharing sites and peer-to-peer marketplaces, where it can be easy to generate fake endorsements. TrustCloud uses proprietary algorithms that recognize suspicious patterns and assess the quality of sources to provide an accurate account of a person's transactional history.

TrustCloud places an emphasis on data privacy. All user information that is collected is opt-in, which means that the user can choose which source networks TrustCloud can access. TrustCloud does not release personal data or access private data without user permission. 

This free online service provides assistance for those who wish to participate in the sharing economy, and may prove invaluable in fostering confidence in the sharing community.



Image by Vox Efx, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.