User-generated content (UGC), alternatively known as user-created content (UCC), is any form of content, such as images, videos, text, and audio, that has been posted by users on online platforms such as social media and wikis. It is a product consumers create to disseminate information about online products or the firms that market them.
User-generated content is used for a wide range of applications, including problem processing, news, entertainment, advertising, gossip, research and many more. It is an example of the democratization of content production and the flattening of traditional media hierarchies. 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 developed a similar user-generated content platform, known as iReport. There are other examples of news channels implementing similar protocols, especially in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophe or terrorist attack. Social media users can provide key eyewitness content and information that may otherwise have been inaccessible. By 2020 businesses are increasingly leveraging UGC to promote their products, as it is seen as a cost effective and authentic way to grow a brand's image and sales. 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 of an event.