PhD position: "Comparative commercial and political advertising on social media" (1.0 FTE)

PhD position: "Comparative commercial and political advertising on social media" (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
9 Nov 1 Dec Utrecht
Are you interested in developing (practical) knowledge about social media technologies and comparative law methodologies? Then we are looking for you.

Job description

The Utrecht Centre for Regulation and Enforcement in Europe at the Utrecht School of Law, Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance, is looking for a PhD candidate to conduct research on advertising and platform governance under the supervision of dr. Catalina Goanta, dr. Bram Duivenvoorde and prof. dr. Janneke Gerards.

Content monetization reflects a new era of social media business models, changing the nature of digital advertising from platform to human ads. Human ads are Internet influencers (also referred to as content creators) who earn revenue from social media advertising by creating authentic, relatable advertising content for their armies of followers. While their activity has been touted as a new form of creative labour, the overlap between their freedom of expression, political thought and advertising interests raises some serious concerns. One underlying danger is the convergence of speech in two ways. Consumers and citizens can no longer distinguish (i) between ads and non- ads, and (ii) between commercial and political communications. This is a new form of consumer vulnerability on digital markets where speech cannot be separated from platform infrastructure. Human ads are an emerging category of stakeholders who turn engagement into currency in novel ways. Users are faced with a double transparency problem:
(i) human ads have incentives to hide commercial interests, and
(ii) platforms have incentives to algorithmically amplify human ads engagement in opaque ways.

This reflects a general good faith and fair dealing problem: the social media economy is increasingly based on deceit. Without a cohesive fair advertising framework, vulnerable consumer citizens are literally left to their own devices in fending off misinformation and manipulation affecting democracy and market stability alike.

This PhD project consists in conducting comparative legal research aimed at analysing the commercial and political advertising regimes applicable to content creators on social media. It falls at the intersection of consumer protection, media law, fundamental rights and electoral law, and focuses on clarifying questions such as:
  • What are the similarities and differences between regulatory frameworks applicable to commercial and political advertising?
  • How do these frameworks deal with deceit, and how is potential liability distributed in the advertising supply chain?
  • How do platforms govern commercial and political advertising? What should their role be in the light of recent regulatory reforms in the European Union such as the Digital Services Act and the Political Advertising Regulation proposal?
This PhD position is part of the European Research Council Starting Grant HUMANads. The PhD candidate will have an opportunity and be expected to further define the initial research objectives set out by the project, in collaboration with the supervision team. This PhD position will be part of a broader project team featuring computer scientists and media scholars, and it will be based in the RENFORCE research center and the Molengraaff Institute for Private Law.

Specifications

Utrecht University

Requirements

  • Academic excellence proven through a good track record of initiatives related to, among others, academic research;
  • Obtained (or obtained by the start of the PhD trajectory) (Research) Master in Law or a Master in adjacent fields, such as law and technology;
  • Interest in being part of an interdisciplinary team;
  • Affinity to or interest in developing (practical) knowledge about social media technologies and comparative law methodologies;
  • Demonstrable strong interest in doing scientific research and specifically research on the subject of the PhD project;
  • Ability to process and critically assess large bodies of complex information and engage in clear, critical and creative thinking;
  • Good planning and organizing skills, ability to deliver high-quality results on time;
  • Ability to function both independently and under supervision, communicate with the supervising team, process feedback effectively, take initiative and be proactive;
  • Excellent academic writing skills;
  • Excellent command of English;
  • Preferred command of Dutch (at least at A2 level
  • Interest to develop command of German.
The starting date will be 1 March 2023. Interviews preferably will be held in December 2022.

Conditions of employment

This is an appointment of 1.0 FTE for the duration of 18 months. In case of a good performance, extending the employment is one of the possibilities.
The gross salary starts with €2,541 per month in the first year and increases to €3,247 per month in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities) for a full-time employment.

Besides that, you will receive a holiday allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. Utrecht University also has an appealing package of terms of employment, including the choice for a good balance between work and private (a good arrangement for leave, among other things), possibilities for development and an excellent pension scheme. For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

Employer

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance is a faculty at the heart of society, with a strong focus on social issues. Our subjects of Law, Economics and Governance give us a strong mix of academic disciplines that complement and enhance each other. This is a unique combination and a mark of our faculty's strength. 

The Utrecht University School of Law has provided quality research and education for more than 350 years. Constant innovation has enabled the School to maintain its leading position. Top-ranking research is conducted in all important legal fields: private law, criminal law, constitutional and administrative law, EU law, public international law. Researchers collaborate intensively with foreign partners, mainly from the angle of European and comparative law. The School of Law also conducts contract research and consultancy for other organisations. The extensive educational programme is based on academic research conducted within the faculty of Law, Economics and Governance. Students are trained to be highly qualified, internationally-oriented lawyers on the basis of modern didactical principles. 

The Utrecht Centre for Regulation and Enforcement in Europe (RENFORCE) is a dynamic research programme for some 60 researchers from EU law, international law, constitutional law, administrative law, criminal law, private law, economic law, and criminology. It builds on the Utrecht Law School Europa Institute's renowned and longstanding reputation in the field of the interaction between European and national legal orders.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact: Catalina Goanta (Associate Professor in Private Law and Technology and Principal Investigator of the ERC Starting Grant HUMANads), via e.c.goanta@uu.nl.

Specifications

  • PhD
  • Law
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1199978

Employer

Location

Newtonlaan 201, 3584 BH, Utrecht

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Application procedure

Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

We invite you to apply for this position before 1 December 2022 by sending your curriculum vitae (including a list of publications - if any), a motivation letter, a sample of academic writing and contacts of two referees via the ‘apply’ button below.

Application procedure

Application procedure

Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

We invite you to apply for this position before 1 December 2022 by sending your curriculum vitae (including a list of publications - if any), a motivation letter, a sample of academic writing and contacts of two referees via the ‘apply’ button below.

Make sure to apply no later than 1 Dec 2022 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).