Participation and User Created Content

Participation and User Created Content

By: Siyuan Zhou

Tutorial Class: Tuesday 5p.m.~8p.m., Kai Soh


In the contemporary digital world, social media has been regarded as an important tool of communication that have already pervasively permeated of our daily life. It affects how people handle interpersonal relationships and engage with discussions on issues of different respects. As the most significant quality of social media, the participative feature of it explicitly highlights the importance of participation of users. Social media users are no longer merely playing the role of information receivers, they are also utilizing various forms of ways to provide information (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013).

This article will review the core concepts relating to participation including ‘Prouser’, ‘User Generated Content(UGC)’and ‘User Created Content(UCC)’ with some additional cases which are not used by Hinton and Hjorth. Then, this article will give some self-reflection during the semester relating to the core concepts reviewed.


Participation and Prouser

As Hinton and Hjorth (2013) mention in Chapter 2 of Understanding Social Media, the role transformation of the Internet users from simply consumers to participants of media is on the premise of Web 2.0 which is the new network communication environments.

Hinton and Hjorth (2013) list two aspects of participation in social media. The first one is public response which means that audience give comments or reviews on what they have read or watched on the social media. Hinton and Hjorth (2013) use the form of radio talkback and the letters to newspaper editors as the past examples and commenting on an online news story as the contemporary one.

Another form of participation is a new concept of users as media producers (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Users here are those who deliver information rather than only receiving it. Hinton and Hjorth (2013) believe that this kind of users are just ordinary people with simple electronic devices and technical skills but what matters is that they have the ability to create great ideas. As long as someone posts something produced by himself/herself, he/she then possesses a new identity of ‘prouser’. Australian academic Bruns describes the term of ‘prouser’ as a conflation of ‘producer’ and ‘user’ (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013).

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(PewDiePie, 2017)

The case of a famous produser is PewDiePie who is actually a Swedish Video-game commentator named Felix Arvid Ulf Kjelberg. He has made a great number of videos showing how he plays different kinds of video games with a small box on the corner simultaneously showing his reactions to what is happening. Kjelberg has become famous because of his YouTube Channel having over 54 million subscribers now. Ranking him 1st  among the 15 most popular YouTubers in the world, Business Insider(2015)points out that the reason why Kjelberg is so popular is also because he is willing to communicate with his fans in the YouTube comments section. Kjelberg is undoubtedly a successful prouser in social media.



Hinton and Hjorth (2013) defined ‘User Generated Content’(UGC) as an active part of the media participation involving forwarding content to other users.


One of the interesting examples of the application of UGC is the Starbucks White Cup Contest. Starbucks launched a marketing campaign in 2014 inviting people to decorate the blank canvas of its white re0usable coffee cups with their own original artwork and encouraging people to take a photo of their design work and submit it to Twitter under the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. The final design standing out would be printed on their limited-edition plastic cups due out in the Fall. Starbucks received over 4,000 entries within just three weeks.

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Here is the winning entry, 20-year-old college student Brita Lynn Thompson.

Simpson (2016) considers the campaign as a great example how you don’t need a huge budget to have a big impact on social media.

Hinton and Hjorth (2013) argue that not all the information online produced by users is aimed to attracting attention of others and serve as the comforts of others.

Only the kind of information produced intentionally for the purpose of consumption by other uses can be classified as ‘User Created Content’ (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013).

Hinton and Hjorth (2013) suggest that Wikipedia is a successful case for the application of UCC worldwide. As one of the world’s largest online repository of knowledge, Wikipedia allows anyone to create pages, edit or amend information about any topic they are interested in and have insight about (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Anyone who engaged in the process of creation, editing and amendment are valued as contributors of the improvement of the entire source quality (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). This is also a UCC case illustrate the intellectual achievement made by wisdom of the crowed.

Other two cases of citizen journalism and online activism exemplified by Hinton and Hjorth (2013) reveal that the influence of prousage is profound on social media as well as on social engagement.


Self-reflection Relating to the Core concepts

During this semester, our group conduct a mock-up campaign ‘#BeTheFilter’ which aims to calling on social media users to become responsible and critical by avoiding the spread of fake news.

Because of the rapid development of digital media, people nowadays receive information from more channels than before. Among them, social media is undoubtedly a platform favored by the general public because its function of customized searching and the ranking of real-time hot-button issues allow users to choose to receive the information they are interested in more rapidly and its function of forward makes users more easily to be the information sender just with a quick click. However, in fact, the click is always without fact-checking of the information in most cases. It is of great necessity to verify the authenticity of the information as social media is flooded with fake press releases and fake news items.

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(American News, 2017)

American News (http://americannews.com/) is one of the notorious fake news website. It published a false story claiming actor Denzel Washington endorsed Donald Trump for president. The fictional headline led to thousands of people sharing it on Facebook. This is a prominent example of fake news spreading on the social network prior to the 2016 presidential election.

It is evident that the spread of Information on fake news websites is the negative application of User Created Content. Those who fabricate the news are the irresponsible prousers. Meanwhile, those who forward the fake news whether they are aware of the truth of the it should also be viewed as irresponsible prousers because the information they release online is the fake User Generated Content.

To avoid the wide spread of fake news and encourage Internet information receivers to identify the truthfulness of the news they suspect, many fact-check websites have established around the world to offer some help.

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(FactCheck.org, 2017)

FactCheck.org is a nonprofit website that describes itself as a non-partisan “consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics” (Wikipedia, 2017). Most of its content conclude rebuttals of inaccurate and misleading information and some false claims by politicians. Users can also ask question about the online rumor and get an answer from the web worker. Contributing much to the political journalism, FactCheck.org was credited by Time Magazine as one of the “25 Sites We Can’t Live Without” in 2016.

As participants of social media, every Internet user has the right to create information of their own. The concepts of UGC and UCC are of great significance because it is the development of them that make social media vibrant. To make positive contribution of social media, it is necessary to understand that everyone should take the responsibility of the information release online.




10 excellent examples of user-generated content in marketing campaigns. (2017). Econsultancy. Retrieved 27 April 2017, from https://econsultancy.com/blog/67547-10-excellent-examples-of-user-generated-content-in-marketing-campaigns/

American News – Breaking News, Political News and Updates –. (2017). American News – Breaking News, Political News and Updates. Retrieved 27 April 2017, from http://americannews.com/

FactCheck.org. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 27 April 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FactCheck.org

Hinton, S., & Hjorth, L. (2013). Understanding social media (1st ed.). Los Angeles, CA [etc.]: SAGE.

PewDiePie. (2017). YouTube. Retrieved 27 April 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/user/PewDiePie

The 15 most popular YouTubers in the world. (2017). Business Insider. Retrieved 27 April 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com/the-most-popular-youtuber-stars-in-the-world//?r=AU&IR=T#15-ksi-1



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