The regulation of social media influencers

25 May 2020

Social media influencers have become increasingly pervasive in the past years. Influencers (also often called content creators) are individuals with a large following on social media who create content which filters information, advertises products and services, offers advice, and promotes political opinions with a significant impact on a broad audience. Nevertheless, their actions remain underexplored in academic literature.

Catalina Goanta

I am Assistant Professor in Private Law at the Faculty of Law. During February 2018 - February 2019, I was a Niels Stensen fellow and visited the University of St. Gallen (The Institute of Work and Employment) and Harvard University (The Berkman Center for Internet and Society). I'm also a non-residential fellow of the Stanford Transatlantic Technology Law Forum

My research follows three main themes:

  1. Content/web monetization and social media governance - the Internet is helping regular users make money in ways that did not exist 10 years ago, such as influencer marketing or ad revenue. In this context, I use doctrinal legal methods to critically reflect on existing and desirable regulatory frameworks surrounding online harms (e.g. content moderation; platform discretion; misleading advertising). To bring together complementing disciplines contributing to this field, I also established and coordinate, with Jerry Spanakis, the Computational Social Media research group.
  2. Privacy, cryptography and decentralization - it is expected that the new age of the Internet will be rooted in technologies meant to enhace privacy, or decentralize decision-making. In this context I use legal and social science approaches to the study of cryptocommunities (e.g. dark web market places).
  3. Digital monitoring tools for consumer protection - the enforcement of law through public interest technology is one of the most essential legal topics of the coming decade. By collaborating with experts in Natural Language Processing and Privacy and Security, I am contributing to the development of tools which can be used by public institutions (e.g. detecting influencer marketing business models on Instagram). 

I have the priviledge of supervising four very talented researchers in their PhD research:

  • Thales Bertaglia (computer scientist)
  • Constanta Rosca (legal scholar)
  • Alex Sotropa (legal scholar)
  • Stephan Mulders (legal scholar)