About IO

120521 7824

About the Internet Observatory

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.


Hack Lab

This course aims to give students a solid understanding of the most common types of attacks used in cybercrime and cyberwarfare. By the end of the course, students are expected to have a basic understanding of some of the most common offensive techniques in use today as well as a comprehensive overview of the most important aspects of cyberpolicy and law.

Trust & Safety Engineering

An introduction to the ways consumer internet services are abused to cause real human harm and the potential operational, product and engineering responses. Students will study both the technical and psycological roots of spam, fraud, account takeovers, the use of social media by terrorists, misinformation, child exploitation, harassment, bullying and self-harm.

Online Open Source Investigation

This course is a practical introduction to online open source investigation – internet research using free and publicly available information. The course will cover domain investigations, social media research, strategies for geolocation and chronolocation (placing videos or images at a point in time), image verification, and research on individuals.