Catalina Goanta wins an ERC Starting Grant

Our colleague Catalina Goanta received the very good news that she received a prestigious ERC Starting Grant for her research project on “Human Ads: Towards Fair Advertising in Content Monetization of Social Media.” Many congratulations to Catalina!

Social-media influencers can shape the opinions of millions of their followers. Selling such influence is often a lucrative business model of these “human ads”. But it is not always clear when they actually engage in advertising and what they advertise. The content created by influencers 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. 

Catalina Goanta  wants to investigate this issue of transparency. The aim of her ERC Starting Grant is to explore if there is a need for a general European legal regime on fair advertising by “human ads” on social media platforms and how such a framework could look like. This question is timely as the social media economy is increasingly based on deceit, which leads to new forms of vulnerability for consumers and citizens on digital markets.

Goanta’s team will try to build a new theory of fair advertising in EU consumer law and aim at better understanding the activities of influencers, their business models and practices as well as business interests across different social media platforms. Another aim of the research is to propose a set of criteria to assess consumer harms caused by influencers and to suggest a new normative governance model with stricter transparency obligations on social media platforms.

 Read more on the ERC website