There are many types of user-generated content: Internet forums, where people talk about different topics; blogs are services where users can post about many topics, product reviews on a supplier website or in social media; wikis such as Wikipedia and Wikia allow users, sometimes including anonymous users, to edit the content. Another type of user-generated content are social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, or VK, where users interact with other people via chatting, writing messages, posting images or links, and sharing content. Media hosting sites such as YouTube allow users to post content. Some forms of user-generated content, such as a social commentary blog, can be considered as a form of citizen journalism.
Copyright laws also play a factor in relation to user-generated content, as users may use such services to upload works—particularly videos—that they do not have the sufficient rights to distribute. In many cases, the use of these materials may be covered by local "fair use" laws, especially if the use of the material submitted is transformative. Local laws also vary on who is liable for any resulting copyright infringements caused by user-generated content; in the United States, the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA)—a portion of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), dictates safe harbor provisions for "online service providers" as defined under the act, which grants immunity from secondary liability for the copyright-infringing actions of their users, as long as they promptly remove access to allegedly infringing materials upon the receipt of a notice from a copyright holder or registered agent, and they do not have actual knowledge that their service is being used for infringing activities.
User-generated content (UGC), alternatively known as user-created content (UCC), is any form of content, such as images, videos, text and audio, that have been posted by users on online platforms such as social media and wikis. The term "user-generated content" and the concept it refers to entered mainstream usage in the mid-2000s, having arisen in web publishing and new media content production circles. The BBC adopted a user-generated content platform for its websites in 2005, and TIME Magazine named "You" as the Person of the Year in 2006, referring to the rise in the production of UGC on Web 2.0 platforms. CNN also invested in developed a similar user generated content platform, known as iReport. There are several other examples of news channels implementing similar protocols, especially in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophe or terrorist attack. Social media users are able to provide key eyewitness content and information that may otherwise have been inaccessible. Due to new media and technology affordances, such as low cost and low barriers to entry, the Internet is an easy platform to create and dispense user generated content, allowing the dissemination of information at a rapid pace in the wake an event taking place. However, UGC is not solely limited to mainstream news or media.
In the 1990s several electronic bulletin board systems were based on user-generated content. Some of these systems have been converted into websites, including the film information site IMDb which started as rec.arts.movies in 1990. With the growth of the World Wide Web the focus moved to websites, several of which were based on user-generated content, including Wikipedia (2001) and Flickr (2004).
User-generated Internet video was popularized by YouTube, an online video platform founded by Chad Hurley, Jawed Karim and Steve Chen in April 2005. It enabled the video streaming of MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) user-generated content from anywhere on the World Wide Web.
In 2006 CNN launched CNN iReport, a project designed to bring user generated news content to CNN. Its rival Fox News Channel launched its project to bring in user-generated news, similarly titled "uReport". This was typical of major television news organisations in 2005–2006, who realised, particularly in the wake of the London 7 July bombings, that citizen journalism could now become a significant part of broadcast news. Sky News, for example, regularly solicits for photographs and video from its viewers.
Sumo TV launched a fully integrated TV & web platform in July 2006, allowing users to upload video clips for broadcast onto the UK SKY satellite network. The channel also employs user-generated broadcasting by allowing users to build their own shows which are broadcast within the channels live virtual studio.
The travel industry, in particular, has begun utilizing user-generated content to show authentic traveler experiences. Travel-related companies such as The Millennial, Gen Z, and Busabout relaunched their websites featuring UGC images and social content by their customers posted in real time. TripAdvisor includes reviews and recommendations by travelers about hotels, restaurants, and activities.
Since the mid-2000s, journalists and publishers have had to consider the effects that user-generated content has had on how news gets published, read, and shared. A 2016 study on publisher business models suggests that readers of online news sources value articles written both by professional journalists, as well as users—provided that those users are experts in a field relevant to the content that they create. In response to this, it is suggested that online news sites must consider themselves not only a source for articles and other types of journalism, but also a platform for engagement and feedback from their communities. The ongoing engagement with a news site that is possible due to the interactive nature of user-generated content is considered a source of sustainable revenue for publishers of online journalism going forward.
Another criticized aspect is the vast array of user-generated product and service reviews that can at times be misleading for consumer on the web. A study conducted at Cornell University found that an estimated 1 to 6 percent of positive user-generated online hotel reviews are fake.
User-Generated Television or UGTV refers to TV footage that was originally created by a member of the public and then uploaded to the internet. Often the process of selecting such footage for broadcast includes the input of web users. UGTV can refer to TV show content or to advertisements.
The incorporation of user-generated content into mainstream journalism outlets is considered to have begun in 2005 with the BBC's creation of a user-generated content team, which was expanded and made permanent in the wake of the July 7, 2005 London bombings. The incorporation of Web 2.0 technologies into news websites allowed user-generated content online to move from more social platforms such as MySpace, LiveJournal, and personal blogs, into the mainstream of online journalism, in the form of comments on news articles written by professional journalists, but also through surveys, content sharing, and other forms of citizen journalism.
The use of user-generated content has been prominent in the efforts of marketing online, especially among millennials. A good reason for this may be that 86% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they support, and 60% believe user-generated content is not only the most authentic form of content, but also the most influential when making purchasing decisions.
The ability for services to accept user-generated content opens up a number of legal concerns, from the more broader sense to specific local laws. In general, knowing who committed the online crime is difficult because many use pseudonyms or remain anonymous. Sometimes it can be traced back. But in the case of a public coffee shop, they have no way of pinpointing the exact user. There is also a problem with the issues surrounding extremely harmful but not legal acts. For example, the posting of content that instigates a person's suicide. It is a criminal offense if there is proof of "beyond reasonable doubt" but different situations may produce different outcomes. Depending on the country, there is certain laws that come with the Web 2.0. In the United States, the "Section 230" exemptions of the Communications Decency Act state that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." This clause effectively provides a general immunity for websites that host user-generated content that is defamatory, deceptive or otherwise harmful, even if the operator knows that the third-party content is harmful and refuses to take it down. An exception to this general rule may exist if a website promises to take down the content and then fails to do so.
Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia, is one of the largest user-generated content databases in the world. Platforms such as YouTube have frequently been used as an instructional aide. Organizations such as the Khan Academy and the Green brothers have used the platform to upload series of videos on topics such as math, science, and history to help aid viewers master or better understand the basics. Educational podcasts have also helped in teaching through an audio platform. Personal websites and messaging systems like Yahoo Messenger have also been used to transmit user-generated educational content. There have also been web forums where users give advice to each other.
Briefly User-Generated Content occurs when a product's customers create and disseminate online ideas about a product or the firm that markets it. These ideas are often in the form of text but also come in other forms such as music, photos, or videos. UGC has three key characteristics: (1) The contribution is by users of a product rather than the firm that sells this product; (2) it is creative in nature and the user adds something new; (3) it is posted online and generally accessible.
The term "user-generated content" has received some criticism. The criticism to date has addressed issues of fairness, quality, privacy, the sustainable availability of creative work and effort among legal issues namely related to intellectual property rights such as copyrights etc.
User-generated content was featured in Time magazine's 2006 Person of the Year, in which the person of the year was "you", meaning all of the people who contribute to user generated media, including YouTube, Wikipedia and MySpace. A precursor to user-generated content uploaded on YouTube was America's Funniest Home Videos.
The advent of user-generated content marked a shift among media organizations from creating online content to providing facilities for amateurs to publish their own content. User-generated content has also been characterized as citizen media as opposed to the 'packaged goods media' of the past century. Citizen Media is audience-generated feedback and news coverage. People give their reviews and share stories in the form of user-generated and user-uploaded audio and user-generated video. The former is a two-way process in contrast to the one-way distribution of the latter. Conversational or two-way media is a key characteristic of so-called Web 2.0 which encourages the publishing of one's own content and commenting on other people's content.
Entertainment social media and information sharing websites include Reddit, 9Gag, 4chan, Upworthy, Newgrounds, Inbound.org, and Distractify. Sites like 9Gag allow users to create memes and quick video clips. Sites like Tech in Asia and Buzzfeed engage readers with professional communities by posting articles with user-generated comment sections. Other websites include fanfiction sites such as FanFiction.Net; imageboards; artwork communities like DeviantArt; mobile photos and video sharing sites such as Picasa and Flickr; audio social networks such as SoundCloud; crowd funding or crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and ArtistShare; and customer review sites such as Yelp.