Update on the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO)

Update on the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO)

image of people sitting at round tables listening to a speaker on the stage

The Stanford Internet Observatory continues its important work following the departure of founding director Alex Stamos under the leadership of faculty director Jeff Hancock, whose research program focuses on areas of trust, deception and online harms; social media and well-being; and, AI in human communication. In alignment with Professor Hancock’s research agenda, SIO will continue its critical work on child safety and other online harms, its publication of the Journal of Online Trust & Safety, the Trust & Safety Research Conference, and the Trust & Safety Teaching Consortium.   

SIO founding director Alex Stamos, who previously stepped back for personal reasons, continues as a lecturer at Stanford in the Computer Science and Masters in International Policy programs. SIO continues to employ research scientists and scholars, policy analysts, administrative staff and many student research assistants and teaching assistants, all of whom will work under faculty leadership to support new and existing SIO projects and advance its teaching mission. Additionally, SIO faculty and staff will continue their work looking into psychological and media research questions associated with misinformation around the 2024 election.

Stanford has not shut down or dismantled SIO as a result of outside pressure. SIO does, however, face funding challenges as its founding grants will soon be exhausted. As a result, SIO continues to actively seek support for its research and teaching programs under new leadership.

We are tremendously grateful for the incredible outpouring of support we have received, and humbled by the many offers of assistance, which we believe are a testament to the importance of SIO’s work over the last five years and going forward.

SIO and Stanford remain deeply concerned about efforts, including lawsuits and congressional investigations, that chill freedom of inquiry and undermine legitimate and much needed academic research – both at Stanford and across academia.