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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
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New Report Provides Inside Look and Lessons from Monitoring COVID-19 Anti-Vaccine Narratives

The Virality Project final report finds recycled anti-vaccine narratives and viral content driven by recurring actors.

Featured News and Publications

Image of social media icons and a hand holding a phone

Full-Spectrum Pro-Kremlin Online Propaganda about Ukraine

Narratives from overt propaganda, unattributed Telegram channels, and inauthentic social media accounts.
An illustration of a magnifying glass hovering over screenshots from the report. The magnifying glass is revealing the letters "OSINT" in the background.

Final Projects from the Stanford Internet Observatory's Online Open Source Investigation Course

Research on inauthentic behavior on TikTok, misinformation on Stanford's campus, Telegram activity in Belarus, health insurance scams that run advertisements on Google, and QAnon content on Tumblr.
An illustration of the experience of using a poorly coded website with a screen reader. The illustration shows three mockups of a smartphone screen with each selectable choice saying only "button". Behind the buttons is a blurred image of a computer.

Accessibility for Trust and Safety Flows

How well do platform reporting flows and context labels work with screen readers for the visually impaired?

Journal of Online Trust and Safety

The Journal of Online Trust and Safety is a no fee, fast peer review, and open access journal. Authors may submit letters of inquiry to assess whether their manuscript is a good fit. The Journal of Online Trust and Safety is now accepting letters of inquiry for its third issue and special issues.

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Reporting for Duty

Blogs / September 1, 2020
An investigation into a network of Pakistan-based Facebook and Instagram accounts suspended for coordinated inauthentic behavior reveals mass reporting to silence critics of Islam and Pakistan.
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man waiving flag at protest in Belarus

No Modest Voices: Social Media and the Protests in Belarus

Blogs / August 28, 2020
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Telegram have largely become a rallying space for protesters and supporters of the opposition.
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graphic with corona viruses, stylized flags of Iran and Israel, and the hastag covid1948

#Covid1948: The Spread of an Anti-Israel Hashtag

Blogs / August 13, 2020
An Investigation into a coordinated hashtag on Twitter.
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graphic illustration of facebook posts from yemen

The Ministry of Made-Up Pages: Yemen-Based Actors Impersonate Government Agencies to Spread Anti-Houthi Content

Blogs / August 6, 2020
We analyzed a now-suspended network of Facebook Pages, Groups, and profiles linked to individuals in Yemen. We found accounts that impersonated government ministries in Saudi Arabia, posts that linked to anti-Houthi websites, and pro-Turkish Pages and Groups.
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virality project graphic with RT logo and flags

Two Faces of Russian Information Operations: Coronavirus Coverage in Spanish

Blogs / July 30, 2020
RT en Español leaves coronavirus-related disinformation to other sites in the Russia-aligned information space.
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Announcing the Election Integrity Partnership

News / July 27, 2020
A new partnership with Stanford Internet Observatory, the Program on Democracy and the Internet, DFRLab, Graphika and the University of Washington's Center for an Informed Public will tackle electoral disinformation in real time as we strive for a healthy and successful election.
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SIO China Whitepaper Cover

New White Paper on China's Full-Spectrum Information Operations

Blogs / July 20, 2020
The white paper, in collaboration with the Hoover Institution, dives into China’s capabilities and raises an important question: how do states with full-spectrum propaganda capabilities put them to use in modern-day information operations? We examine 3 case studies: Hong Kong's 2019-2020 protests; Taiwan’s 2020 election; and COVID-19.
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Suicide prevention content in multiple languages on major platforms

Blogs / July 16, 2020
Google, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram feature suicide prevention resources on English language searches in the US, but are those resources available to a broader audience? Performance varies across countries and languages and supportive content appears more frequently in wealthy European and East Asian countries and less frequently other regions.
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reddit hate speech

Comparing Platform Hate Speech Policies: Reddit's Inevitable Evolution

Blogs / July 8, 2020
On Monday, June 30, 2020, Reddit updated its policy on hate speech. As part of research for a forthcoming book based on the Stanford Internet Observatory’s Trust and Safety Engineering course, we present a comparative assessment of platform policies and enforcement practices on hate speech, and discuss how Reddit fits into this framework.
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Virality Project: Saudi Arabia State Media and COVID-19

Blogs / June 24, 2020

COVID-19 has directly or indirectly affected every country, providing an opportunity for comparative analysis of the ways governments use the pandemic to pursue political objectives. SIO has been conducting case studies investigating how various state media apparatuses are responding to the crisis, and the political dimensions of coronavirus misinformation around the world. Here we focus on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, investigating how its state media (and media formally or informally linked to the ruling royal family) have discussed the pandemic.

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russia twitter takedown

Dispatches from the June 2020 Twitter Inauthentic Activity Takedown

Blogs / June 18, 2020
On June 12, 2020, Twitter removed 1,152 accounts attributed to Current Policy, “a media website engaging in state-backed political propaganda within Russia.” These accounts were taken down because they violated Twitter’s policy on platform manipulation. Our latest white paper analyzes their activities and motivations.
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virality project   mask diplomacy

Mask Diplomacy: Chinese Narratives in the COVID Era

Blogs / June 16, 2020
China has been shipping medical supplies to countries battling the coronavirus pandemic, an effort dubbed “mask diplomacy.” It remains to be seen if China will be able to tailor its messages effectively to win hearts and minds of people around the world.
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twitter takedown june 2020

Analysis of June 2020 Twitter takedowns linked to China, Russia and Turkey

Blogs / June 11, 2020
On June 3, 2020 Twitter shared with the Stanford Internet Observatory three distinct takedown datasets from China, Turkey and Russia. In this post and in the attached white papers on the China and Turkey operations, we look at the topics and tactics of these operations.
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Virality Project (Russia): Penguins and Protests

Blogs / June 9, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic spread around the world, RT’s English-language branches worked to undermine lockdown measures in Western countries while extolling the Russian and Chinese governments’ success in containing the virus’s spread.
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Digital Street Conflict

Blogs / June 3, 2020
A survey of spam, state and covert activities in the U.S. during domestic unrest.
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Online Misinformation about Vaccines

News / June 3, 2020
In the June 2020 Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science Policy Report, "Meeting the Challenge of Vaccination Hesitancy," Stanford Internet Observatory research manager Renée DiResta and First Draft lead strategist Claire Wardle write about how anti-vaccination movements' effective storytelling helps spread misinformation online.
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An Investigation into Domestic Nigerian Social Media Financial Scams

Blogs / 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 have earned money through a fake investment scheme, and encourage others to “invest”. The potential for harm is high: by one estimate thousands have been scammed.
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Virality Project (US): Marketing meets Misinformation

Blogs / 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

Blogs / 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 concern of almost every nation on the planet, the virus significantly shifted the landscape for viral mis- and disinformation.
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Poland Presidential Election 2020: Disinformation Strikes the Military

Blogs / 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 discovered a previously unknown connection to the website Niezależny Dziennik Polityczny, which has previously been accused of having ties to Russian intelligence.
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Coordinated behavior across 18 pro-Saif Gaddafi Facebook Pages

Blogs / 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 government, including by pushing COVID-19 conspiracies.
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Stanford Internet Observatory launches attribution.news with First Draft

Blogs / 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 and recommended best practices for covering this topic.
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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

Blogs / 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 almost entirely to social media. The government also announced further shelter-in place restrictions thereby making traditional voting impossible.
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Virality Project (China): Coronavirus Conspiracy Claims

Blogs / 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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