With the technological infrastructure that physicists and astronomers have used for decades as a founding metaphor, the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) was launched two years ago to create a powerful social science-based “observatory” for online researchers:
“…Political and social sciences have been slow to build their capacity to study the negative impact of technology, in part due to a lack of access to data, information processing resources, and individuals with the backgrounds needed to examine data over exabytes. For centuries, physicists and astronomers have coordinated resources to build infrastructure Massive technology to advance their field.With data and content expanding infinitely, researchers need the infrastructure capabilities to research these new frontiers of information.
The Stanford Internet Observatory is an interdisciplinary research, teaching, and political engagement program examining the misuse of current information technologies, with a focus on social media. Under the supervision of the Alex Stamos Computer Security Expert Program, the Observatory was created to identify Internet abuse in real time, to develop a new approach on trust and security that is first in computer science, and to translate our research discoveries into training and policy innovations for the greater good.
By providing researchers across Stanford with cutting-edge data analytics and machine learning resources, we will unlock completely unexpected areas of research. We envision a world where researchers are not limited to the most accessible data but instead dive into the toughest and most important questions by leveraging the capabilities of the Stanford Internet Observatory.”
The team’s work at the observatory has been impressive — and we’ve been following their efforts since their launch in 2019. If you’d like an overview of the “research, education, and policy” and ideas of the SIO team while considering their “research and refinement of our path forward as a think tank,” the following report details Their focus areas and goals for the next year: Stanford Internet Observatory enters its second year.
Now we move on to SIO’s latest offering in partnership with Graphics: The August 24th edition of a joint investigation into “a network of interconnected accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and five other social media platforms that use deceptive tactics to promote pro-Western narratives in the Middle East and Central Asia. The platforms’ datasets appear to cover a series of clandestine campaigns over nearly five years rather than a single monolithic process”…which the SIO authors believe is “the most comprehensive case of covert pro-Western influence operations on social media to be reviewed and analyzed by open source researchers to date.”
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