No area of society has avoided disruption by new internet technologies. Democracy, media, education… these fields will face continued upheavals as we deal with the impact of billions of people having access to both high-quality information and disinformation on demand.
Unfortunately, the political and social sciences have been slow to build their capabilities to study the negative impact of technology, partially due to a lack of data access, information processing resources and individuals with the necessary backgrounds to sift through exabytes of data. For centuries, physicists and astronomers have coordinated resources to build massive technological infrastructure to further their field. With infinitely expanding data and content, researchers need infrastructural capabilities to research this new information frontier.
The Stanford Internet Observatory is a cross-disciplinary program of research, teaching and policy engagement for the study of abuse in current information technologies, with a focus on social media. Under the program direction of computer security expert Alex Stamos, the Observatory was created to learn about the abuse of the internet in real time, to develop a novel curriculum on trust and safety that is a first in computer science, and to translate our research discoveries into training and policy innovations for the public good.
By providing researchers across Stanford with cutting edge data analytics and machine learning resources we will unlock completely unforeseen fields of research. We envision a world where researchers do not limit themselves to the data that is easy to access, but instead dive into the toughest and most important questions by leveraging the capabilities of the Stanford Internet Observatory.
SIO's first two years of research, teaching and policy set the path for the years to come.