With a wonderful interdisciplinary team, I had the privilege of being part of the first round of Grant for the Web projects. Building on this insight, and in the hope to create more convergence between pockets of researchers, creators, developers and pretty much anyone interested in the content creator economy and its business models, is the upcoming European Research Council Starting Grant project HUMANads.
Content creator revenue has widely diversified in the past years, but one of the most important business model remains influencer marketing. Selling such influence is lucrative and can turn individuals into “human ads”. If the advertising industry centralized in Web 2.0 can be said to have led to targetting and manipulation, when ads boxes in feeds are replaced by entertainment or news content, similar harms may arise. This content featuring native advertising can be commercial, but it can also hide political messages, which further obscures the problem. Consumers and citizens can no longer distinguish between ads and non-ads, and between commercial and political communications.
In this project, I aim to investigate this issue of transparency. If the social media economy is increasingly based on deceit, it leads to new forms of vulnerability for both consumers and citizens on digital markets.
If you're interested in this project, do reach out! Also worth noting that the project entails 2 PhD positions (law + computer science), as well as 2 postdoc positions (social science + computer science), that will be hosted at Utrecht University's Faculty of Law (The Netherlands). I'll keep giving updates of the project in the months to come.
Thanks so much Grant for the Web for having paved the way to this big project! ❤️