How User-Generated Content Enables Inappropriate Material for Your Child

Everyone loves having access to an endless amount of free content from websites that have figured out how to provide it. But as with advertising that provides free materials, user-generated content has proven to have its own problems that weren’t properly anticipated. User-generated content is any content that the users of a platform create themselves and then distribute through that platform. In a sense, Wikipedia follows this model, since all of its content is sourced and written by anyone with the desire to do so. Another example is Snapchat. Many people are familiar with Snapchat geolocation tags which are created in a similar way. In each of those cases respectively, they result in vandalism on biographies and offensive locations tags being uploaded and reproduced through each platform. These models become spaces for people to use the large audience to harass others online.

A recent example of this occurred with a racist slur gif on Giphy that automatically popped up on Instagram and Snapchat because of the applications software integration with both. As a result, both social media companies have tentatively disabled Giphy in order to solve this problem. This way of creating content has become relatively common over the last 5 years and now the question is: can Instagram and Snapchat solve these problems to keep this content out of reach of children? Even more worrisome is the fact that today’s adolescents are so tech savvy that they have the skills to create this kind of content if motivated and these social media applications can become platforms to bully others in ways that evade many parents’ knowledge.