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School of Law

The use of artificial intelligence for content moderation on social media services under the new regime of the Online Safety Act

This Faculty of Humanities and and Social Sciences Student Bursary Project is open to LLM students at Queen Mary University of London.

The research will combine understanding content moderation technologies based on AI and the new legal framework under the Online Safety Act, which is currently being implemented to “keep the internet safe”.

Project lead

Julia Hörnle, School of Law, Centre for Commercial Law Studies:

Relationship between this project and your research or scholarship

My wider research plans over the next two years lie in the field of law and knowledge creation using AI. I will be on Sabbatical 2024-2025 and I’m planning to write two articles at the interface of content regulation, targeting of content and advertising online (in your social media feeds), law and artificial intelligence predicting users’ interests and users’ behaviours.

I would like to employ one of our LLM students to assist me with doing the research for the first article on how AI is used to moderate content online and how this relates to law (Online Safety Act, its implementation but also wider questions of freedom of expression and privacy). One of the key questions here is to what extent machine learning can “understand” content. The research assistance by the student will involve: 

(i)carrying out a literature search and helping with the literature review through workshop discussions, and (ii) actively discussing ideas. 

Their research assistance will be acknowledged, and of course I would be happy to write them a reference mentioning their work experience. The process of carrying out a systematic literature review and rationalising the knowledge gained and how this can be instrumentalised into an in-depth legal argument and insights for tech-regulation, should be a good learning experience for a LLM student who is seeking professional experience during their LLM.

Student skills and knowledge required

LLM student with very high fluency in English (close to native skills), very good LLM grades (high merit/distinction) in current LLM Modules; some familiarity (possibly through their coursework as part of the LLM) with media regulation in the UK and EU (TMT Law Modules); ideally some experience as a practising lawyer (which most students on the LLM have).

Start date and work pattern

Two meetings in week commencing 15/4 and 22/4 to discuss project and research methods; feedback on what has been found in terms of literature. Then we both read (some of) the literature; workshop in week commencing 17/6 (5 hours) to discuss summaries of literature and start discussing ideas, arguments, themes appearing from the literature and how to close gaps. Second literature search in week commencing 1/7 (meeting to discuss in that week) and final meeting and discussion week commencing 8/7 or week commencing 15/7. I will write the actual article in July and August 2024.

Application and funding details

Students must submit applications to Ryan Shand, Research Manager: by 12 noon on 13 March 2024.

We anticipate that funding will be disbursed in two instalments, both subject to confirmation by the academic project lead that the student has been working appropriately.

The first instalment (40% of the award) will be paid at the end of May 2024; the second (60% of the award) will be paid upon overall completion.

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