in·ter·net ob·serv·a·to·ry

[ˈin(t)ərˌnet əbˈzərvəˌtôrē] n. a lab housing infrastructure and human expertise for the study of the internet

Digital Street Conflict

A survey of spam, state and covert activities in the U.S. during domestic unrest.

Featured News and Publications

An Investigation into Domestic Nigerian Social Media Financial Scams

Hundreds of scam social media accounts across platforms claim to have earned money through a fake investment scheme. They hijack accounts and encourage others to invest. By one estimate thousands have been scammed.

Marketing meets Misinformation

A slickly-produced video mixed health misinformation about COVID-19 into a broader conspiratorial tale of profiteering and cover-ups and went viral in days. We examine the marketing techniques leading up to the launch of "Plandemic."

The SIO Virality Project

The Stanford Internet Observatory's Virality Project is a new global study aimed at understanding disinformation dynamics specific to the COVID-19 crisis. Read our launch announcement and visit our project webpage.

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Digital Street Conflict

Blog / June 3, 2020
A survey of spam, state and covert activities in the U.S. during domestic unrest.

An Investigation into Domestic Nigerian Social Media Financial Scams

Blog / June 2, 2020
We identify hundreds of scam social media accounts across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok targeting individuals in Nigeria. These accounts post on compromised accounts claiming to...

Virality Project (US): Marketing meets Misinformation

Blog / May 26, 2020

Plandemic was one step in a larger process to raise the profile of its subject. SIO had begun to observe an increasing number of posts about Plandemic’s subject, Judy Mikovits, beginning on April 16. For two and a half weeks, we observed a series of cross-platform moments in which Judy Mikovits – a scientist whose work was retracted by journal editors – was recast as an expert whistleblower exposing a vast government cover-up.

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Launching the SIO Virality Project

Blog / May 21, 2020
The Stanford Internet Observatory's Virality Project is a new global study aimed at understanding disinformation dynamics specific to the COVID-19 crisis. As the pandemic became the primary...

Poland Presidential Election 2020: Disinformation Strikes the Military

Blog / May 8, 2020
Amid increasing political turmoil and a potential constitutional crisis, Poland was recently targeted by an elaborate disinformation operation. We studied the tactics used by the attackers and...

Coordinated behavior across 18 pro-Saif Gaddafi Facebook Pages

Blog / April 27, 2020
A cluster of pro-Saif Gaddafi Facebook Pages suspended for inauthentic behavior worked to create the impression that Saif has broad support among Libyans, and tried to undermine the recognized...

Stanford Internet Observatory launches attribution.news with First Draft

Blog / April 20, 2020
Attribution.news provides journalists with tools to effectively cover the origins of both cyber incidents and information operations online. It unpacks some of these complexities through case studies...
WARSAW, POLAND - OCTOBER 13: Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the governing, right-wing Law and Justice political party (PiS), speaks to supporters following the announcement of first results in Polish parliamentary elections on October 13, 2019 in Warsaw, P

Poland Presidential Election 2020: The Pandemic Sows Chaos

Blog / April 10, 2020
With a month to go until the planned election date, neither the final date of the election nor the mechanism for voting has been established. To comply with social distancing, the campaign has moved...

Coronavirus Conspiracy Claims: What’s Behind a Chinese Diplomat’s COVID-19 Misdirection

Blog / March 31, 2020

As scientists continue to study how the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in Wuhan, China, and around the world, the infection’s early pathways have proven fertile ground for speculation and conspiracy theories. Although COVID-19’s earliest origins may remain uncertain, the story of one volley in the ongoing U.S.-China blame game shows that misinformation about the disease can be traced to specific speculations, distortions, and amplifications. 

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Blurring the lines of media authenticity: Prigozhin-linked group funding Libyan broadcast media

Blog / March 20, 2020

The Stanford Internet Observatory has been investigating new facets to the manipulation of the local media environment in Libya: Russian actors who are known to have previously created and sponsored online news media fronts and associated Facebook pages, now appear to be expanding into similar activities in broadcast media.

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Pandemics & Propaganda: How Chinese State Media Shapes Conversations on The Coronavirus

Blog / March 19, 2020

The perception of China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been a significant challenge for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over the past two months. The CCP has been attempting to control the narrative and deflect blame since the start of the outbreak, both domestically and abroad.

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Polish Presidential Election 2020: Two Months Out

Blog / March 10, 2020

For a broader look at the upcoming Polish election, its stakes and major figures, see our scene-setter.

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Poland: Presidential Election 2020 Scene-Setter

Blog / January 28, 2020

This is the third of a series of pieces the Observatory intends to publish on societies and elections at risk from online disinformation. Our goal is to draw the attention of the media, tech platforms and other academics to these risks and to provide a basic background that could be useful to those who wish to study the information environment in these areas.

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Taiwan Election: Disinformation as a Partisan Issue

Blog / January 21, 2020

On January 11, 2020, Taiwan held its 15th presidential and 10th Legislative Yuan election. Taiwanese citizens soundly re-elected Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, who won 57.1% of the vote over her opponents, Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Han Kuo-yu (who took 38.61%), and the People’s First Party candidate James Soong (4.26%). The DPP also maintained its majority in the Legislative Yuan, though with a slight decrease of a few seats. Voter turnout was high, with almost 74% of eligible voters casting ballots, up from 66% in 2016.

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Taiwan Election: One Day Out

Blog / January 10, 2020

There is only one day left before Taiwan heads to the polls, and researchers, election integrity teams at tech platforms, and press are following the dynamics closely. On January 1st, Taiwan entered into its ten day polling black-out period, a time during which there is a strict ban on agencies and individuals sharing, or citing, any public survey related to a candidate or the election overall.

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Analyzing a Twitter Takedown Originating in Saudi Arabia

Blog / December 23, 2019

On December 20, 2019 Twitter announced the removal of 88,000 accounts managed by Smaat, a digital marketing company based in Saudi Arabia, and attributed thousands of these accounts to involvement in “a significant state-backed information operation”. On December 17 Twitter shared with the Stanford Internet Observatory 32,054,257 tweets from 5,929 randomly sampled accounts. In this report we provide a first analysis of the data.

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Taiwan Election: Three Weeks Out

Blog / December 19, 2019

Last Friday, December 13, 2019, Facebook announced it had removed 118 fan pages, 99 groups, and 51 accounts supporting Taiwan’s KMT presidential candidate, Han Kuo-yu. Our team at SIO had been observing several of the Groups removed, including one that was prominently featured in media coverage of the takedown: 2020韓國瑜總統後援會(總會)[“2020 Han Kuo-yu presidential support group (General group)”].

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Bing’s Top Search Results Contain an Alarming Amount of Disinformation

Blog / December 17, 2019

Bing’s importance in the information landscape of the U.S. shouldn’t be overlooked. While its share of the search market in the U.S. might be dwarfed by that of Google, it has steadily increased over the past ten years.

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Taiwan Election: The Final Countdown

Blog / December 12, 2019

This post is an update to our Presidential Election 2020 Scene Setter published August 26, 2019. 

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Evidence of Russia-Linked Influence Operations in Africa

Blog / October 30, 2019

Russia’s global strategy for reasserting itself as a geopolitical superpower has led to an increased presence in Africa, where it has broadened efforts to shape the continent’s politics and pursue new economic opportunities to allay the effects of sanctions.

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Libya: Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Scene Setter

News / October 2, 2019

Political context

Libya has seen continuing violence for several years, with rebel General Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army (LNA) forces, controlling large swaths of the country and aiming to take control of Tripoli.

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Kosovo Blue Lives Takedown

Blog / September 30, 2019

In the course of assisting reporter Judd Legum of Popular Information on an investigation into a Ukraine-based network of Facebook Pages (recently taken down), SIO researchers uncovered a similar network that appeared to be operating from Kosovo. This network, consisting of approximately 9 pages with 312,000 followers, focused predominantly on “Blue Lives Matter” content – an American social movement that expresses support for police officers.

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Should We Be Worried About Election Interference in 2020? Probably, says Facebook’s Former Chief Security Officer

News / September 18, 2019

Alex Stamos is “extremely worried” that the upcoming U.S. presidential election will see some kind of interference from foreign adversaries.

“It’s too late for legislation — we start voting in the primaries in February,” Stamos told Michael McFaul, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, on the World Class podcast. “And it’s really unfortunate that we as a society watched the ball fly over the plate on this one.”

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