Safety issues with user-generated content (UGC)

The BBC receives hundreds of videos, photos, emails and texts from members of the public every day that it uses to tell the stories in the news - sometimes from countries where the BBC is banned or reporting is difficult because of conflict. The BBC’s former UGC assistant editor Trushar Barot explains how the BBC considers both their authenticity and the personal safety of contributors.

The BBC has a duty of care to people who send videos, photos, emails or texts that it uses in its journalism. This user-generated content (UGC) often comes from situations where the physical safety of the contributor might be at risk - such as natural disasters or war zones. It might also be sent by people from countries where the BBC is banned or free reporting is difficult.  

In this video, former assistant editor Trushar Barot who works in the BBC’s UGC Hub, the team that manages this content, explains how they try to ensure the contributor is safe to communicate with the BBC and has a secure means to do so.  

The team rarely use landlines or mobiles that can be easily monitored. Instead, they tend to use Skype, which he says is the “main tool of choice” in Syria because it is more secure than other forms of communication.

The UGC team also urge contributors to ensure their social media passwords are secure and changed regularly, and to consider what additional information is available on their profile that could identify them.