the team

Personalised Communication is an interdisciplinary project by two research institutes at the University of Amsterdam (UvA): The Institute for Information Law (IVIR) and the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR). This initiative is funded by the UvA, as part of its focus-research-program.

Natali Helberger is Professor of Information Law, with a special focus on the use of information, at the Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam. Her research explores how the role of the user of information is changing under the influence of information technology, and social and economic conditions. She also examines the resulting implications for the legal position, rights and obligations of information users under current and future media and communications law, consumer law and data protection law. Helberger’s research features a strong interdisciplinary component: in order to assess whether and how information law ties in with the reality of information users and information markets, she regularly works with communication scientists, social scientists, psychologists as well as cultural scientists and economists. For her research, she has been awarded a VENI-Talent Grant from the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research, and an ERC Grant for her research “Profiling and targeting news readers – implications for the democratic role of the digital media, user rights and public information policy”.

As a member of the Connect Advisory Group, she advises the European Commission on the content of the Horizon2020 programme. Helberger is also a member of the European Cloud Computing Contracts Expert Group. In addition, she is an editorial staff member of the Journal of Information Policy and a reviewer for several leading international journals and financing organisations. Hellberger also sits on the programme committee of EuroCPR, which is an initiative of the Centre for European Policy Studies, and the International Telecommunications Society (ITS).


Claes H. de Vreese is Professor and Chair of Political Communication and director of the Program Group Political Communication & Journalism in The Amsterdam School of Communication Research ASCoR at the Department of Communication Science, University of Amsterdam. He directs the UvA Research Priority Area Communication and he is Adjunct Dean of the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences FMG. He is the founding Director of the Center for Politics and Communication ( Finally, he is Affiliated Professor of Political Science and Journalism at the University of Southern Denmark. Between 2005 and 2013 he was the Director of ASCoR and NeSCoR. ASCoR is one of the largest social sciences research institutes in communication science in the world and was rated ‘Excellent’ in national research assessments. In 2010 he was one of the initiators of the English language master program in Political Communication. Communication science at the UvA is rated as a top 10 program world wide (QS University Ranking).

His research interests include comparative journalism research, the effects of news, public opinion and European integration, effects of personalised information, media exposure research, and referendum research. His research is funded by several science foundation grants, including Veni and Vici grants from the Dutch Science Foundation, as well as grants from the EU research programs. He is carrying out an ERC project between 2015 and 2020.

He has received awards for research from the International Communication Association, the Danish Science Foundation, and the Norwegian Holberg Foundation. He was a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) and is now a board member of the KNAW’s Social Science Council.He has published 100+ articles in international peer-reviewed journals, including Communication Research, Journal of Politics, Journalism Studies, Political Communication, Journal of Communication, Public Opinion Quarterly, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Scandinavian Political Studies, European Journal of Communication, West European Politics, European Union Politics, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Mass Communication & Society, and European Journal of Political Research. He has lectured in a dozen of countries and frequently appears in (inter)national news media. He is the Editor of Political Communication Editor and former Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Public Opinion Research IJPOR. He serves on the Editorial Board of several ISI ranked journals and reviews manuscripts for 40+ journals in journalism, communication science, political science, and European studies.
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Paddy Leerssen started his PhD at the IViR in September 2018. His research focuses content recommendation algorithms and the governance of media pluralism. His other reseach interests are intermediary liability and net neutrality law.

The central question in Paddy’s research is how social media platforms can be made publicly accountable for their impact on media pluralism. Social media recommendation algorithms, such as YouTube’s Autoplay and Facebook’s Newsfeed, can have profound influences on media ecosystems. However, their precise effects are opaque to outsiders. For instance, it remains unclear whether algorithmic recommender systems contribute to so-called ‘filter bubbles’ and ‘echo chambers’ — or whether they affect media pluralism in other ways. Paddy studies how EU law responds to these new challenges, and explore policy tools that can enable transparant en democratic governance of these algorithmic systems.


Brahim Zarouali is working as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, research institute ASCoR. His interest can be situated in the persuasion processes and effects of personalised communication through ICT’s, usually tackled by a (consumer and social) psychology perspective. In his research, he mainly uses a quantitative research strategy, hereby adopting experimental or cross-sectional research designs.

Before joining ASCoR in October 2018, Brahim worked at the University of Antwerp as a PhD researcher on the AdLit project (VLAIO), an interdisciplinary research project on advertising literacy among children and adolescents in Flanders, Belgium. The topic of his dissertation was how young consumers interact with personalised advertising on social networking sites from a persuasion perspective. One of the main central questions in his PhD-project was how this group of consumers can be empowered in their engagements with personalised marketing content. In August 2018, he obtained his PhD degree in Communication Studies at the University of Antwerp.


Jef Ausloos is working as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam’s Institute for Information law (IViR). His research interests center around data-driven power asymmetries and the normative underpinnings of individual control, empowerment and autonomy in the modern-day, largely privatised information ecosystem.

Before joining IViR in December 2018, Jef was a doctoral researcher at the University of Leuven’s Center for IT & IP Law (CiTiP). He worked on a variety of projects in media and data protection law and in October 2018 he obtained his PhD entitled ‘The right to erasure: safeguard for informational self-determination if a digital society?’. Jef holds degrees in law from the Universities of Namur, Leuven and Hong Kong. He has worked as an International Fellow at the Center for Democracy & Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation and has been on research stays at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society (Harvard University) in 2012; the Institute for Information Law (University of Amsterdam) in 2015; and the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law (Cambridge University) in 2017.


Tom Dobber is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR). His research focuses on political behavioral targeting practices of political campaigns in multiparty democracies. Tom researches the perception and effects of these targeting practices on citizens, through interviews, surveys and experiments. Tom is especially interested in voting behavior and the extent to which this behavior can be influenced.



Nadia Metoui is a postdoctoral researcher at The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) in collaboration with Institute for Information Law (IViR) at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). She previously obtained a BSc in Computer Networks and Telecommunication at INSAT the Tunis Institute of Technology, Tunisia, (in 2010) and an MSc in Computer Science from ESPRIT the Private Engineering School of Tunis, Tunisia (in 2013). Her current research interests revolve around the effects of personalized communication tools (e.g., content recommender systems) on several aspects of privacy, as well as possible tools and technologies to assess and control these effects.

Before joining the University of Amsterdam, Nadia obtained her Ph.D. in May 2018 from the University of Trento. She was granted a Marie Curie fellowship to join the SECENTIS project, a European Industrial Doctorate in Security and Trust, in collaboration between the University of Trento in Italy, the Security and Trust research unit at Bruno Kessler Foundation in Trento, and SAP Labs France. During her Ph.D. She worked on developing and evaluation a new generation of Privacy Risk-based Access Control Systems. She also worked at the University of Milan as a research fellow on the Privacy-Aware Cyber Security project, PACS, where she developed a privacy threat identification and evaluation methodology for enterprise cybersecurity ecosystems.


Marijn Bax


Marijn Sax is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Information Law (IViR). He has a background in Political Science (BA) and Philosophy (BA, MA) and is mainly interested in questions concerning ethics, privacy and technology. Marijn’s research focuses on health apps, and more specifically on the ethical dimensions of this new phenomenon and how ethical considerations relate (or should relate) to (consumer) law.




Joanna Strycharz is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR). In her research she focuses on personalised marketing communication. Through interviews, surveys and experiments Joanna looks into the balance of personalisation in commercial communication and the degree of customer acceptance.



Mariella Bastian is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Information Law (IViR) at the University of Amsterdam. She is interested in the question in how far personalization technologies impact newsroom structures and the journalistic profession. In her PhD project at TU Dortmund University (Germany) she worked on media accountability and self-regulation in Latin America. With a background in journalism studies and a focus on international journalism, Mariella has also worked on editorial responsibility and the relationship between the media and democracy. She is experienced in comparative research, including methods such as quantitative and qualitative content analysis, focus group discussions and expert interviews.


Jaron Harambam (1983) works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam, where he is part of the multi-disciplinary Fair News Project in which he studies the role of algorithms in news provision. He defended his PhD (cum laude, highest distinction) October 2017 at the Rotterdam Centre for Cultural Sociology at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, titled: “The Truth Is Out There” – Conspiracy Culture in an Age of Epistemic Instability. For this research project, he carried out extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the Dutch conspiracy milieu to study what contemporary conspiracy theories are about, who actually follows them and what these people do with these ideas in their everyday lives. The overall goal is to arrive at an empirically rich and theoretically elaborate understanding of the contemporary popularity of conspiracy theories. He has published about his research project in Cultural Sociology (2016) and in the Public Understanding of Science (2015). His broader sociological interests lie at the intersections of science, popular culture, (new) media and religion. Although most experienced with ethnographic research methods, he is knowledgeable of quantitative research as well. Before, he studied the commercialization of virtual game worlds, allegedly breaking down the “magic circle” of play which got published in the European Journal of Cultural Studies (2011). And he conducted both quantitative and qualitative research about governmental efforts to revive rural social life through new digital technologies which got published in Information, Communication, and Society (2013). He currently is an editor of the Dutch peer-reviewed journal Sociologie, co-edited a special issue on actor-network theory (2014), and is a founding member of the European network of scholars working on conspiracy theories, COST COMPACT.


Judith Moeller is an Assistent Professor at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research. In her research she focuses on the effects of political communication, in particular social media and digital media. She is experienced in longitudinal and comparative panel survey research and content analysis. Judith is fascinated by the changing nature of political participation in the digital age and uses state of the art methods and analysis techniques to understand the impact on democratic societies. She is also always trying to improve measures of media exposure, taking into account the personalized and targeted media environment users experience everyday.


Nadine Bol is a postdoctoral researcher at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR). Currently, she is working on the Personalised Communication project, focusing on health, as well as on a postdoctoral project granted by the Dutch Cancer Society, focusing on online and offline nadinetailored messages for older cancer patients and their healthcare providers. Between 2011 and 2015, she wrote her dissertation titled “how to present online information to older cancer patients”, focusing on visualization of online technologies to improve older patients’ website satisfaction and recall of information. Her research interests are driven by the desire to unravel mechanisms that explain effects as well as conditions that moderate these effects. In addressing these research interests, Nadine gained experience in conducting experimental and survey studies, usability research (i.e., eye tracking and think-aloud methods), and literature reviews. Nadine’s work has been published in several nationals and international journals and books, and has been recognized with several awards. In her future work, Nadine aims to further explore when and how online technologies are effective by examining novel ways of personalizing information to improve and optimize health outcomes for a wide variety of individuals.


Mykola Makhortykh is a data science postdoc at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research. He is part of multi-disciplinary Fair News project, in which his research is focused on online news consumption habits and the ways these are influenced by recommender systems. Mykola received his PhD in 2017 from the University of Amsterdam; in his dissertation, he examined the role of digital platforms in framing political and historical issues in Eastern Europe. His other interests include the impact of algorithmic systems on armed conflict coverage, automated detection of propaganda and disinformation, and digital war remembrance.