March 27, 2024

How to Do UGC Moderation to Protect Your Online Presence


Around 55% of shoppers say they rely on user-generated content when it comes to buying a product from a brand they don’t know about. 

Although this proves that having UGC is a huge advantage for your brand, what happens when there’s a bad UGC about your products or services?

One such case took place in 2012 with McDonald’s and it proves why you can’t just throw a hashtag at your followers and expect great content in return.

Trying to collect touching tales and UGC from individuals having McDonald’s, the fast food chain invited fans to share their #McDStories after the success of their #meetthefarmers campaign.

Unfortunately, they received the exact opposite response as people started posting negative personal experiences with the brand. 

From food poisoning to poor customer service, people were sharing negative experiences and McDonald’s had no control over how the hashtag was used by the global community. 

So what’s the solution? 

Implement UGC moderation to avoid such crises in the future.

But, what is UGC moderation, and how to do it? Let’s dive into it.

What is user-generated content (UGC) moderation?

UGC moderation is a process of overseeing and regulating the content created and shared by users, particularly as it relates to brands and their interactions on social media platforms. 

This process is essential for ensuring that such content adheres to the specific guidelines, rules, and regulations established by the platforms where the content is posted. 

Things to look for when moderating content: 

  • Inappropriate or offensive content like hate speech, discrimination, or vulgar language
  • Harmful or dangerous content like harassment, cyberbullying, or threats towards individuals or groups
  • Sharing of personal information without consent
  • Community Guidelines and Terms of Service violations
  • Application of Spam and Bots in content like irrelevant links, duplicate content, keyword stuffing, or other tactics to manipulate algorithms.

Why is moderation important for user-generated content?

UGC is a powerful strategy for building brand image because it can enhance trust and credibility by showcasing authentic experiences from real users. 

It can also tell stories from real people who have experienced a product or service first-hand, which can tap into people’s emotions better than a static advertisement. 

A survey report by Business Wire also mentions that more than 40% of consumers disengage from a brand’s community after as little as one exposure to toxic or fake UGC, while 45% say they will lose all trust in a brand.

So, why is UGC moderation important?

  • To prevent the spread of harmful, offensive, or illegal content
  • To protect the platform’s brand reputation and credibility
  • To foster a respectful and inclusive online community
  • To ensure compliance with laws, regulations, and intellectual property rights
  • To prevent spam, misinformation, and malicious activities like cyberbullying
  • To uphold the platform’s values, guidelines, and community standards
  • To provide a positive user experience and build trust

4 Types of UGC Moderation

There are  4 main types of UGC moderation you can employ. Each approach offers a different balance between control and user engagement, so read more to decide which approach is best for you.


This is when content is reviewed and approved before it is made visible to other users. The goal is to ensure that only appropriate and compliant content is published, so you can maintain the quality and safety of the platform. However, it requires significant human resources for continuous monitoring.


  • Prevents harmful and offensive content
  • Maintains high-quality discussions
  • Build trust with users
  • Protects against legal issues


  • It can be expensive
  • Time-consuming
  • Risk of inconsistent moderation


UGC post-moderation is when content is published first and then reviewed by moderators. In this approach, UGC undergoes moderation for compliance with platform rules and guidelines.


  • Content is not held up by pre-approval, so there’s a smoother content flow
  • Users can interact with content immediately which means more engagement


  • Less control over UGC
  • Unchecked stuff might build-up, which might result in being exposed to negative UGC

Proactive Moderation

Content is proactively monitored and moderated before it is published or shared. This approach aims to identify and address potentially problematic content before it can cause harm or violate community guidelines. Proactive moderation aims to prevent issues before they arise, rather than waiting for content to be published and then moderating it afterward.


  • Maintains brand image as it prevents issues before they arise


  • Requires manpower and technology to continuously monitor and moderate content.
  • Managing the processes can be complex, especially on large platforms with high volumes of UGC.

Reactive Moderation

Content is moderated based on user reports or complaints rather than proactive monitoring. It is less resource-intensive but can lead to delayed response times and potential harm before moderation occurs.


  • Encourages users to contribute to content moderation
  • Doesn’t need constant monitoring as it relies on user reports


  • Harmful content can remain visible for some time
  • There might be variations in reporting rates and inconsistent moderation outcomes.

How to Moderate User-generated Content

There are multiple ways to moderate UGC content but these are the top 3 ways. Read more to choose a method that suits your style for moderation:

Manual UGC moderation

Manual UGC moderation involves human moderators checking content based on set guidelines and standards.

Following the platform’s content regulations and guidelines, involves people actively monitoring, evaluating, and deciding whether to accept, remove, or otherwise moderate particular pieces of information.

Here’s how to perform manual moderation:

  1. Develop a document that clearly outlines prohibited content, categorization of violations, and corresponding actions.
  2. Create a UGC moderation team
  3. Understand the platform’s specific rules and expectations
  4. Establish a moderation workflow. Review process, action implementation, content removal, user warnings, account suspension/termination, etc.

Automated UGC moderation

Automated moderation is usually done with AI. Simply put, AI evaluates and filters UGC according to predetermined standards and criteria. 

This makes it possible to analyze and filter a lot of stuff quickly. The one downside is it might not be as good at catching subtle or context-dependent content.

Follow these steps to perform automated moderation:

  1. Choose tools that align with the platform’s specific needs and the type of content being moderated 
  2. Connect the chosen moderation software with the platform to enable automated scanning of UGC
  3. Configure the software by keyword filtering, pattern recognition filters, etc.
  4. Regularly monitor and adjust the filtering criteria, keyword lists, etc. to improve the tool’s effectiveness over time

Hybrid UGC moderation

Hybrid moderation combines both manual and automated approaches, leveraging the strengths of each method. Human moderators review and make final decisions on content flagged by automated systems, ensuring a balance between accurate filtering and human judgment.

To perform a hybrid UGC moderation, you need to:

1. Develop a two-tiered review system:

  • Tier 1: Automated tools flag potential violations based on pre-defined criteria.
  • Tier 2: Trained UGC moderators review the flagged content, considering context and applying their judgment to make final decisions 

2. Regularly adjust the automation system, review and update the moderation policy and training materials for the moderation team

9 Tips for Effective UGC Moderation

Till now, we’ve understood the importance of UGC moderation and how to perform it for your brand. But, UGC comes with its own set of challenges. So, here are some tips to help you run effective UGC moderation:

Determine guidelines and community standards

Having proper guidelines and standards helps the moderators make decisions while moderating the UGC. You need to clearly define what kind of content is acceptable and what is not, based on your brand values and target audience.

For example, YouTube has a guideline of restrictions on using copyrighted material without permission and Reddit has a community guidelines page.

Combine human moderators with automation

Most of the UGC  nowadays is moderated by AI. However, the best method is hybrid UGC moderation as we cannot completely rely on AI checks. 

So, there must be a mix between AI and human content moderators where AI will do the heavy lifting by pre-screening the content for any potential problems, and a human moderator can make the final decision.

Implement user reporting and flagging system

Users can help in UGC moderation as well. They can simply report offensive or rule-breaking content. Users should be made aware of the guidelines and violation rules for them to flag or report content effectively.  

You can also add a “Flag” or “Report a violation” link/button that allows your users to report the content to you easily.

Provide training and support for moderators

Being a moderator can affect their mental well-being as they have to go through disturbing, explicit content at times which is not suitable for public view. 

Repeated exposure to highly stressful situations was found to negatively impact some officers’ cognitive abilities, memory, mental health, and overall well-being as mentioned in a report by Crowd Intelligence Lab.

To provide training and support for your UGC moderators:

  • Develop a comprehensive training program 
  • Be proactive about the mental well-being of content moderators
  • Encourage open communication and feedback loops
  • Offer mental health resources and support services

Regularly review moderation policies and processes

For an effective review of UGC moderation policies, you need to assess the relevance of existing rules and make necessary adjustments. 

For processes, you can test a variety of methods that suit the platform’s needs and user volume. This may involve automated tools, manual review, or a hybrid approach depending on the platform’s requirements.

Foster a culture of transparency

Trust and understanding can be fostered by being transparent with users regarding moderating decisions. Giving users brief explanations for actions made on their content informs them of what the platform considers inappropriate. Additionally, it offers guidance on how to follow content-sharing guidelines, which will improve user compliance going forward.

Reward customers to get better content

If there is a low amount of UGC for your brand then you can reward your customers to make UGC for you. To do so, offer discounts or freebies, create a loyalty program, reshare their content on your brand’s social media handle, etc.

For example: LinkedIn invites users to share their expertise on collaborative articles in exchange for a “Top Voice” badge.

Develop a crisis management plan

You need to develop a crisis management plan for a fast response when a negative UGC is published and it affects your brand reputation. 

Here’s how to prepare a crisis management plan:

  • Understand and predict the scope of the crisis.
  • Prepare a proactive crisis preparation plan to navigate the situation when it takes place
  • Collaborate and train your team members for crises in the future 
  • Do a post-crisis evaluation to learn from it and take proper measures to avoid it in the future.

Ensure compliance with regulations

To avoid any legal and regulatory issues, it is important to comply with regulations. During moderation, screening for content that can infringe copyright laws, data protection sanctions, and other parameters helps businesses avoid getting into legal trouble.


UGC moderation is crucial for maintaining a safe, trustworthy, and positive online environment for users. By reviewing and filtering user-generated content, brands can protect their reputation, and foster a respectful community.

The methods and tips mentioned in this article will prepare you to successfully do UGC moderation, but, if you don’t have the time and resources to adopt these strategies, you can always outsource a fully managed UGC agency.

Hire a fully managed UGC agency

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