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The Power of User-Generated Content, and the Threat of Content Abuse

DataVisor’s Q3 2019 Fraud Index Report analyzes more than 80 billion events to deconstruct content abuse patterns in user-generated content.

By Priya Rajan November 19, 2019

Photo of Priya Rajan

about Priya Rajan
Priya Rajan is VP of Marketing at DataVisor. She is a highly-regarded leader in the technology and payments sectors, bringing more than two decades of experience to her role. She has previously held leadership roles with high-growth technology organizations such as VISA and Cisco, and Silicon Valley unicorns like Nutanix and Adaptive Insights.

There are many reasons why digital businesses continue to embrace and incorporate user-generated content (UGC), and just as many reasons why businesses should be concerned about content abuse.

Depending on the platform, UGC can do everything from sell products to humanize brands. As reported by Stackla, “79 percent of people say user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions,” and “90 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support.”  For some platforms, UGC forms the entire core of the business model—review sites and social media platforms being two prominent examples.

However, while UGC offers a great deal of opportunity for digital businesses, it also opens the door to significantly heightened risk, and the possibility of rampant abuse. Drawing on proprietary analysis of more than 80 billion events, 758 million users, and 368 million IP addresses, DataVisor’s new Q3 2019 Fraud Index Report deconstructs content abuse patterns in user-generated content, and makes clear why content abuse not only remains on ongoing problem, but a worsening one. 

The report breaks down where and how content abuse takes place and reveals the sophisticated techniques fraudsters use to perpetrate their malicious activities. Special attention is paid to the increasing sophistication, complexity, and scale of modern content abuse. The report concludes with a deep dive into how transformational technologies such as deep learning are being used to detect and deter even the most massive bot-powered content abuse campaigns.  

As the new Fraud Index Report makes clear, the proliferation of fake, abusive, fraudulent, deceptive, and toxic user-generated content can severely damage a brand. If users can no longer trust the content they engage with on a particular platform, they will eventually cease to use the platform at all. When customer churn increases, investors worry, advertisers depart, and businesses struggle. 

This report presents viable solutions for addressing the challenge of content abuse and offers enterprises a way to leverage the best of what user-generated content has to offer while eliminating its associated risks.  

Content abuse does not occur in a vacuum. And, there is no one single technique that fraudsters use to commit these kinds of attacks. Content abuse lives within a complex ecosystem that comprises everything from data breaches, identity theft, and account takeover, to phishing, buyer-seller collusion, and adversarial machine learning. Additionally, content abuse is virtually platform-agnostic; impacting marketplaces, social platforms, e-commerce sites, shipping services, travel sites, and more. Finally, any platform that includes a forum of any kind is vulnerable, as is any site that includes a messaging component.

In today’s digital economy, it is almost impossible to put a price on reputation. Brands live and die by consumer sentiment, and user-generated content is a primary driver of trust and authenticity. Understanding both the promise and peril of opening up your platform to user-generated content is critical if your brand is to avoid lethal reputation damage. This understanding begins with comprehensive knowledge of what content abuse is, how it happens, and what can be done to stop it. 

Brands live and die by consumer sentiment, and user-generated content is a primary driver of trust and authenticity. Understanding both the promise and peril of opening up your platform to user-generated content is critical if your brand is to avoid lethal reputation damage. This understanding begins with comprehensive knowledge of what content abuse is, how it happens, and what can be done to stop it. 

Download DataVisor’s Q3 2019 Fraud Index Report today. Get exclusive data and actionable insights for developing the right UGC strategies to grow your business, secure your platform, protect your good customers, and lock out bad actors.


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