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User Generated Content – To believe or not to…

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In the last couple of years, social media has been discussed through and through in India. From celebrities taking to social media like fish to water to brands trying to use it to improve their customer services, social media has gripped all alike. Then there are people like Gursimran Kaur who have tweeted through her delivery which was more for the need of telling her twitter mates rather than a publicity stunt.

This is not all… From the Mumbai terrorist attacks to the recent 7.2 earthquake in Pakistan, news comes to Twitter in a flash. Often times than not breaking news comes on Twitter’s and Facebook’s of the world rather than on traditional media!

But can you believe anything and everything what people say on social networks?

 Social Media Content[Image Source]

I have seen people asking the basic of all questions on Twitter from simple ones like getting a job to much more difficult ones like finding the best doctor for knee surgery in Pune. Yes I agree that it’s a user generated content community and all of us help each other, but is the information always reliable?

Here is an example – There was recent ammonia gas leak in a place in Kolkata. The tweet had come from none other than Derek O’ Brien. It was retweeted many times. Obviously well and good since it warned people to take pre-emptive action right? But interestingly even after Derek told not to retweet any more since everything was ok, people continued doing the same and spreading fear amongst citizens.

 image

There have been similar events on Twitter with respect to companies, brands, celebrities etc.

Is it the desperation to become famous? Is it the need of being recognized?

Wikipedia is the largest online encyclopaedia in the world laying claim to all the information on the planet. And again it is user generated and edited. So obviously there is a high probability of errors cropping up here and there. Though there have been many editing and unforeseen errors, interestingly there have been many errors purposely created. From demeaning political parties to colleges to brands, even though Wikipedia claims to have a very strong editor base with a very high accuracy percentage, can it be completely trusted?

Facebook, with a potential user base surpassing many of the social networks populations together is a prime source of information and arm–twisting of information too. From viruses which proclaim “This girl died because her father saw her status message” to discussions which may seem trivial at first but maybe quoted by news agencies as their source for the news they produce, the line between the reality and fiction has blurred.

User generated content has all the advantages of greater reach, cheaper cost and fast speed across the world. But can you believe all that is written by someone who you may have never seen or heard from, with a blind eye?

I don’t think so!

  1. […] me, Alternate Reality Games are a really clever combination of narrative and user generated content that becomes the game […]

  2. Pradeep says

    Agree with Gopi. users generated contents are good and at times it is not so good.. but most of the time it can be trusted..

  3. gopi says

    for all the positives we will have negatives.

  4. Sriram Vadlamani says

    Great post Aseem. Thought provoking.

    The metaphor of user generated content can be extended to just about everything and most importantly to Internet itself.

    Many American universities don’t accept online sources to support master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. If you have a source quoted then it has to be from any of the trade journals and a photocopy of the article has to be duly attached. This is the how serious they take the Internet.

    Internet is littered with user generated content. Internet is successful because of user generated content. Internet is user generated content. That’s the best part. Like all good things, it comes with the bad too. Users have to be cognizant about ‘user generated’ content, take the bad out and absorb the good.

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