Our research groups contributes to the study of social media by bridging theoretical knowledge from law and social sciences with computational methods developed by computer science. Thematically, we focus on the growing importance of content creators as users of social media who make a living out of the content they develop. Also known as influencers, content creators belong to a volatile landscape where platforms dictate their reach through recommender systems, and monetization is based on metrics which are often gamed (e.g. fake followers, fake likes). In addition, as a new wave of regulation in the EU and US will push platforms to take a more proactive role in content moderation in order to protect vulnerable audiences such as minors, it is unclear how platforms will apply these rules consistently and equally to all creators. New bodies such as the Facebook Oversight Board or the Twitch Safety Council have been set up to tackle such issues, but their impact remains to be established.
In this context, our research group focuses on understanding the issues that arise out of the monetization of influence on social media, including:
- content monetization business models;
- swarm bullying;
- the monetization of political speech;
- the digital enforcement of consumer protection rules relating to social media content.
Our thematic research group is affiliated with four research institutes and departments from Maastricht University.