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 a magnifying glass hovering over screenshots from the report. The magnifying glass is revealing the letters "OSINT" in the background.

In fall 2021, the Stanford Internet Observatory offered the fourth iteration of its Online Open Source Investigation course. The class covers strategies for investigating content on social media, cryptocurrency transactions, and more. Throughout the quarter students work on an open source investigation into the topic of their choosing.

In the downloadable report we are publishing five student projects from the fall 2021 quarter:

  • "TikTok on the clock: A call for increased urgency in researching the spread of misinformation and disinformation on TikTok" by Lila Shroff and Kyla Guru. The authors find that banned accounts on TikTok still contribute to follower counts. 
  • "A case study of misinformation on campus: Biden’s visit to Stanford" by Lena Han and Frances Schroeder. The authors analyze how a rumor that President Biden visited Stanford's campus spread among students.
  • "Telegram analysis and immigration in Belarus" by Amy Dunphy and Kate Davidson. The authors find that the top Telegram groups that support the government of Belarus used a shared rhetoric about the 2021 migration crisis, emphasizing unexpected issues like international humanitarian law.
  • "Misleading health insurance offerings promoted through Google Paid Search" by Leo Glikbarg, Eli  MacKinnon, Eli Wald, and Songchen Yao. The authors find that bait-and-switch health insurance scams (a ploy to collect user data) run ads on Google. 
  • "QAnon on Tumblr" by Mishaela Robison. The author investigates pro- and anti-QAnon content on Tumblr.