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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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Blurring the lines of media authenticity: Prigozhin-linked group funding Libyan broadcast media

Blogs / March 20, 2020

The Stanford Internet Observatory has been investigating new facets to the manipulation of the local media environment in Libya: Russian actors who are known to have previously created and sponsored online news media fronts and associated Facebook pages, now appear to be expanding into similar activities in broadcast media.

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Virality Project (China): Pandemics & Propaganda

Blogs / March 19, 2020

The perception of China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been a significant challenge for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over the past two months. The CCP has been attempting to control the narrative and deflect blame since the start of the outbreak, both domestically and abroad.

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Polish Presidential Election 2020: Two Months Out

Blogs / March 10, 2020

For a broader look at the upcoming Polish election, its stakes and major figures, see our scene-setter.

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Poland: Presidential Election 2020 Scene-Setter

Blogs / January 28, 2020

This is the third of a series of pieces the Observatory intends to publish on societies and elections at risk from online disinformation. Our goal is to draw the attention of the media, tech platforms and other academics to these risks and to provide a basic background that could be useful to those who wish to study the information environment in these areas.

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Taiwan Election: Disinformation as a Partisan Issue

Blogs / January 21, 2020

On January 11, 2020, Taiwan held its 15th presidential and 10th Legislative Yuan election. Taiwanese citizens soundly re-elected Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, who won 57.1% of the vote over her opponents, Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Han Kuo-yu (who took 38.61%), and the People’s First Party candidate James Soong (4.26%). The DPP also maintained its majority in the Legislative Yuan, though with a slight decrease of a few seats. Voter turnout was high, with almost 74% of eligible voters casting ballots, up from 66% in 2016.

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Taiwan Election: One Day Out

Blogs / January 10, 2020

There is only one day left before Taiwan heads to the polls, and researchers, election integrity teams at tech platforms, and press are following the dynamics closely. On January 1st, Taiwan entered into its ten day polling black-out period, a time during which there is a strict ban on agencies and individuals sharing, or citing, any public survey related to a candidate or the election overall.

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Analyzing a Twitter Takedown Originating in Saudi Arabia

Blogs / December 23, 2019

On December 20, 2019 Twitter announced the removal of 88,000 accounts managed by Smaat, a digital marketing company based in Saudi Arabia, and attributed thousands of these accounts to involvement in “a significant state-backed information operation”. On December 17 Twitter shared with the Stanford Internet Observatory 32,054,257 tweets from 5,929 randomly sampled accounts. In this report we provide a first analysis of the data.

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Taiwan Election: Three Weeks Out

Blogs / December 19, 2019

Last Friday, December 13, 2019, Facebook announced it had removed 118 fan pages, 99 groups, and 51 accounts supporting Taiwan’s KMT presidential candidate, Han Kuo-yu. Our team at SIO had been observing several of the Groups removed, including one that was prominently featured in media coverage of the takedown: 2020韓國瑜總統後援會(總會)[“2020 Han Kuo-yu presidential support group (General group)”].

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Bing’s Top Search Results Contain an Alarming Amount of Disinformation

Blogs / December 17, 2019

Bing’s importance in the information landscape of the U.S. shouldn’t be overlooked. While its share of the search market in the U.S. might be dwarfed by that of Google, it has steadily increased over the past ten years.

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The Secret to Advancing the Science of Cyber Risk: A Q&A with Gregory Falco

Q&As / December 16, 2019

The science of cyber risk looks at a broad spectrum of risks across a variety of digital platforms. Often though, the work done within the field is limited by a failure to explore the knowledge of other fields, such as behavioral science, economics, law, management science, and political science.

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Taiwan Election: The Final Countdown

Blogs / December 12, 2019

This post is an update to our Presidential Election 2020 Scene Setter published August 26, 2019. 

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Evidence of Russia-Linked Influence Operations in Africa

Blogs / October 30, 2019

Russia’s global strategy for reasserting itself as a geopolitical superpower has led to an increased presence in Africa, where it has broadened efforts to shape the continent’s politics and pursue new economic opportunities to allay the effects of sanctions.

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Libya: Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Scene Setter

News / October 2, 2019

Political context

Libya has seen continuing violence for several years, with rebel General Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army (LNA) forces, controlling large swaths of the country and aiming to take control of Tripoli.

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Kosovo Blue Lives Takedown

Blogs / September 30, 2019

In the course of assisting reporter Judd Legum of Popular Information on an investigation into a Ukraine-based network of Facebook Pages (recently taken down), SIO researchers uncovered a similar network that appeared to be operating from Kosovo. This network, consisting of approximately 9 pages with 312,000 followers, focused predominantly on “Blue Lives Matter” content – an American social movement that expresses support for police officers.

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Should We Be Worried About Election Interference in 2020? Probably, says Facebook’s Former Chief Security Officer

News / September 18, 2019

Alex Stamos is “extremely worried” that the upcoming U.S. presidential election will see some kind of interference from foreign adversaries.

“It’s too late for legislation — we start voting in the primaries in February,” Stamos told Michael McFaul, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, on the World Class podcast. “And it’s really unfortunate that we as a society watched the ball fly over the plate on this one.”

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Kelly Born to Join Cyber Policy Center as Executive Director

News / September 3, 2019

The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) is pleased to announce that Kelly Born has been named the first executive director of the Cyber Policy Center. With a focus on cybersecurity, disinformation, digital democracy and election security, the Cyber Policy Center’s research, teaching and policy engagement aim to bring new insights and solutions to national governments, international institutions and industry.

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Taiwan: Presidential Election 2020 Scene Setter

News / August 26, 2019

This is the first of a series of pieces we intend to publish on societies and elections at risk from online disinformation. Our goal is to draw the attention of the media, tech platforms and other academics to these risks and to provide a basic background that could be useful to those who wish to study the information environment in these areas.

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Stanford Internet Observatory Seeks to Detect Internet Abuse in Real Time

News / July 25, 2019

$5 million gift from Craig Newmark Philanthropies will support new program, led by computer security expert Alex Stamos

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As Calls for Regulation Mount, What’s Next for Tech Companies and the U.S. Government?

News / July 24, 2019

As the internet has increasingly been used to weaponize information, governments and technology companies have begun to grapple with new issues surrounding free expression and privacy.

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