A new Google Study shows results about User Generated Content Spam on Users Experience

As we all know, Google keeps on improving user experience on its platform. One way to do this is by conducting studies with human participants to record their experience on the subject.

Similar to this, Google recently conducted another study under the administration of Sowmya Karunakaran – who is the Research Lead at Google Trust and Safety Team. The research discovered many important aspects that could significantly improve the user experience. The study was based on evaluating the effects of User Generated Content (UGC) spam on user experience.

The findings show great improvement and pave a way for further research in the field.

Before moving forward to discussing the research, first, you need to know what does Google Trust and Safety Team do. This department at Google is basically involved in resolving issues related to bad users on Google’s products including Google Search, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Ads, and others. Their main focus is on tackling spam, malware, and account hijacking.

Scale for Research

Every study involves a scale through which the data is collected. In this study, the researchers used the HaBuT scale, which stood for Happiness, Burden, and Trust.

You must be wondering what Burden encompasses of? Burden was related to obtaining data regarding the offensive experience of users on Google. The experience could be spamming, annoying, or anything inappropriate.

Mostly, the offensive or abusive UGC spam was taken from Google Play reviews. Anything that resembled ‘Idiotic morons!” was taken as offensive and abusive.

How was the study conducted?

The research was particularly focused on UGC spam on Google Play the type of review page. All the subjects were shown 100 reviews of which there was a specific percentage of a specific type of spam.

The study was based on 3,300 participants from India, South Korea, and the USA, i.e. 1,100 research participants from each country.

The objective of this research was to identify, which UGC spam negatively affected the user experience, so that the publisher could take actions to fight against it.

Coming Back to the Study…

This research is different from previous researches that only worked on UGC spam, but this study focused on ‘which’ type of UGC spam affected users the most. From research, it is evident that some kind of spam can be ignored while others cannot be ignored.

Five types of UGC spam were the focus of this study:
  1. Gibberish (asd asd dfgh)
  2. Solicitation (Follow me on Instagram @xyz)
  3. Irrelevant (review of smartwatch for headphones)
  4. Promotions (Sign Up now for instant discount coupon)
  5. Abusive Language

Here’s what the study found

Abusive content, as usual, had the most profound influence on the user experience. In short, the user burden was directly influenced by abusive content.

On the flip side, the promotional spam stood second on the list of UGC spam. Lastly, Gibberish content has the lowest influence on the user burden.


An important thing that was noticed was that the UGC spam within the Google Play reviews did not influence user trust. Even though the possibility seems very less, but it’s the truth. The user experience least affected their trust on the page.

So, what’s the Takeaway?

If Google Play reviews are all positive, it will make users suspicious, but if there are both positive and negative reviews – the users will get to know about its pros and cons instantly. The special takeaway here is that the HaBuT scale helped in identifying what User Generated Content spam affected users the most. If businesses knew well about this, they can particularly focus on eliminating it through all their resources.

From the study, abusive content needs more attention, so Google can focus their efforts on this one aspect to improve user experience on their platform. Check out Dr. Sowmya’s video on the research to get all the details about it.



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