PhD candidate on Law and Vulnerability in Social Media 0,8 - 1,0 fte

Leiden Law School, Center for Law and Digital Technologies (eLaw) is looking for a PhD candidate on Law and Human Vulnerability in Social Media 0,8 - 1,0 fte Vacancy number 14542
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Leiden University


eLaw, the Center for Law and Digital Technologies at Leiden University, is looking for a PhD researcher with expertise in law and technology with an interest in digital vulnerability and platform regulation.

RESOCIAL (“User vulnerabilities and Resilience on SOCIAL media platforms and the metaverse: a sociolegal and design perspective”, an NWO-NWA Synergy Grant Project) seeks to identify, measure, and thereby mitigate human vulnerabilities on social media platforms (including the metaverse and immersive technologies), thereby fostering the resilience of their users. People increasingly live their social life online and experience new and/or amplified risks to their fundamental rights (e.g., manipulation, online violence, discrimination, stigmatisation). This is due to the asymmetry of power with the private sector governing online social media platforms and the underrepresentation of vulnerable users in key decision-making at the business level. This issue is amplified by the lack of scientific methods to measure risks to fundamental rights online, the inadequacy of the national and EU legislation to enhance the resilience of users, and the ineffective protection of vulnerable users online. This project will contribute to solving these issues through an interdisciplinary, participative, multi-stakeholder approach. Starting from four use cases of vulnerability (children, vulnerable consumers, vulnerable data subjects, victims of gender-based violence) and through many disciplinary lenses (children’s rights, consumer protection law, data protection law, gender studies, human rights and computer science), this project aims to measure human vulnerabilities on social media and to propose three clear and effective solutions to enhance the resilience of vulnerable groups online, namely: a legal solution (government guidelines for a vulnerability-aware implementation of the legislation on social media); a design solution (“vulnerability-sensitive design”); and a business-oriented solutions (vulnerability-aware codes of conduct for social media and the metaverse).

The research objectives of RESOCIAL are:
RO1: Propose and validate a clear framework to measure risks and human vulnerabilities on social media platforms.
RO2: Analyse the gaps in the existing and proposed legislation on digital platform and formulate action perspectives for the Dutch Government, including Guidelines on platform regulation.
RO3: Propose and validate best practices that can lead to a Code of Conduct for Vulnerability on Social Media model

As a PhD researcher at eLaw, you will advance the knowledge of human vulnerability in social media regulation, at the interplay of data protection, consumer protection, children’s rights and fundamental rights. In concrete, you will help a PostDoc in the project (based at the Leiden Law School) to conduct the interviews planned with different stakeholders and analyze gray information, help structure legal guidelines for the Dutch Government in RO2 and cooperate on RO1 and RO3 with two other postdocs, one specialized in Human-Computer Interactions an Twente University (working on RO3) and another specialized in human rights and technology policy at Delft University and inHolland University of Applied Science (working on RO1).

In particular, we are interested in understanding how we can implement and improve the existing EU legislation (DSA, AIA, GDPR, DMA and Consumer protection acquis) regarding the protection of fundamental rights of vulnerable users on social media, how to assess the impact on fundamental rights and how to create participatory best practices for industries and institutions.

Within this narrative, you will contribute to several ongoing activities, projects, and initiatives in our group at Leiden University, including:
Contribute to the 2-year project RE


Selection Criteria
  • Knowledge in the field of law and technology in the EU, as evidenced through an LLM and preferably relevant work experience. Concerning the knowledge of EU law, education and/or work experience in the law of one of the Member States of the European Union is essential
  • Strong interest in data protection law, platform regulation, digital vulnerability and relevant interest in AI regulation, consumer protection, competition law, children’s rights, gender-based violence;
  • Experience with empirical legal research, including survey and questionnaire preparation, interviews, and data processing;
  • Excellent writing qualities, demonstrated in a thesis and preferably also in publications.
  • Availability to work with multi-stakeholder and complex research teams, with external and international partners;
  • Availability in submitting research proposals to grant organizations;
  • Experience in working in multidisciplinary and/or international teams, including sensitivity and inclusiveness regarding cultural differences among staff and students;
  • Enthusiastic and proactive, with excellent interpersonal and communication skills, spoken and written;
  • Excellent team player and warm community builder;
  • Excellent English, spoken and written. Command of other European languages, e.g., Dutch and Italian, is an advantage.


Leiden University
Leiden is a typical university city, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands (1575). The university permeates the local surroundings. The university premises are scattered throughout the city and the students who live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere. Leiden University is one of Europe's foremost research universities. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia.


Leiden Law School, Center for Law and Digital Technologies (eLaw)
With over 6500 students and 650 members of staff, Leiden Law School is one of the largest faculties in The Netherlands. Yet, in all its diversity, it is still known for its ability to provide education on a small scale. The Faculty focuses on multi-faceted and high-level teaching and research, both nationally and internationally. It does so by working with talented people, and stimulating and supporting them in their professional and personal ambitions. The Faculty is housed in the beautifully restored Kamerlingh Onnes Building on the Steenschuur in Leiden. Working for the Leiden Law School means working in an inspiring scientific environment. For more information, see www.law.leidenuniv.nl. Information on the Center for Law and Digital Technologies: https://law.leiden.edu/organisation/metajuridica/elaw/. Information on Leiden University employment conditions: https://www.staff.leiden.edu/.

The Center for Law and Digital Technologies (eLaw) was founded in 1985 and has a leading role in research and education on law and digital technologies. The Center studies the social, legal and normative impact of emerging digital technologies. The focus of our research and education is particularly on digital technologies and their interplay with fundamental rights and the rule of law. Key themes in our research and education are: online privacy and personal data protection; cybercrime and cybersecurity; data science and law; internet governance; law and complexity in digital society; electronic communications law; children's rights in the digital world; fundamental rights and digital technologies; platform regulation; regulation of AI; law and human-machine interaction; legal technologies; ethics and digital technologies.

Terms and conditions
This is for a full-time position initially for one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility, the appointment will be extended by a further three years. The salary range is from € 2770 to € 3539 gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme.

Diversity and inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are core values of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive. We therefore especially welcome applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Meer informatie

Additional Information
Further information about the position can be obtained from Dr. Gianclaudio Malgieri, email g.malgieri@law.leidenuniv.nl. For more details on the procedure, please contact our secretary, email elaw@law.leidenuniv.nl

Within our policy framework on quality, almost all academic staff at the Faculty of Law have obtained a PhD degree and have met the requirements for the advanced research qualification. In addition, they make a significant contribution to the faculty research program. More information on the advanced research qualification and research programs of the Graduate School of Legal Studies can be found on: https://law.leiden.edu/research-leiden-law-school/graduate-school-of-legal-studies.html.