Glossary of Platform Law and Policy Terms

User-Generated Content

Cite this article as:
Cynthia Khoo (17/12/2021). User-Generated Content. In Belli, L.; Zingales, N. & Curzi, Y. (Eds.), Glossary of Platform Law and Policy Terms (online). FGV Direito Rio.

Author: Cynthia Khoo

User-generated content (UGC) is not a new term in the context of digital platforms but rather was popularized in the earlier days of Internet intermediaries becoming popularized as mainstream spaces online, where users could congregate to connect and form communities, engage in forum discussions and other types of online dialogue, and share their writing, art, music, and other forms of work and creativity with each other and the wider world. User-generated content refers to content distinguishable as created by average everyday users online, as opposed to more professionalized content created by traditional media gatekeepers such as the legacy news, film, and music industries. Krum, Davies, and Narayanaswami have described it as content that “comes from regular people who voluntarily contribute data, information, or media that then appears before others in a useful or entertaining way, usually on the Web — for example, restaurant ratings, wikis, and videos” (Krumm et al., 2008)1.

The term ‘user-generated content’ appears to have declined in popular usage over time, perhaps as a result of the increasingly professionalization of such content, given the increasing accessibility, availability, and affordability of relevant tools and technologies, combined with the fact that as digital platforms have grown in reach and significance, traditional media and other industry players have themselves had to register as users on such platforms as well, as part of their business strategies. It is precisely for this reason, however, that the term UGC may still remain helpful, to distinguish content created by individual users on platforms as opposed to content created, not by traditional media gatekeepers, but neither by governmental actors or business entities that may also have accounts and engage in online activity across digital platforms.


  1. Krum et al. (2008). User-Generated Content. IEE CS Guest Editors Introduction.
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By Cynthia Khoo

Cynthia Khoo is an Associate at the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law, where she leads on worker surveillance and the civil rights implications of commercial data practices, including algorithmic discrimination. She is a Canadian technology and human rights lawyer who joined the Center after accumulating years of experience in technology law, policy, research, and advocacy with various digital rights NGOs and through her sole practice law firm. Cynthia is also a fellow at the Citizen Lab (University of Toronto). She holds a J.D. from the University of Victoria and an LL.M. from the University of Ottawa.

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