Stanford denies dissolution of Internet Observatory

While Stanford University officials denied that the university was planning to shut its renowned research group for studying online harm, the Stanford Internet Observatory, they admitted that there have been problems with funding.

“Stanford did not close or dissolve SIO due to outside pressure,” the university said recently in a opinion after reports of his demise.

A 13 June Platformer Articles claimed Stanford is “quietly dissolving the SIO.” Founding director Alex Stamos left his position in November, the middle's research director, Renee DiResta, left the institute “after her contract was recently not renewed,” and other staff members were “told to look for work elsewhere,” the article said.

In a LinkedIn post on Tuesday, DiResta wrote: “It's unclear what the future holds, but some of us are no longer here.”

Conservative groups and lawmakers have bombarded the institute with costly Lawsuits and congressional investigations. The bulk of the controversy is said to the Election Integrity Partnership, a research project inside the Observatory and in collaboration with the University of Washington and others that investigated disinformation related to the 2020 election. As a part of their work, researchers identified certain social media posts as misleading and referred a few of them to social media corporations.

DiResta spoke in regards to the lawsuits related to her work at the middle in an article published in The Atlantic earlier this month.

“Meanwhile, conservative groups are suing my former colleagues and me,” DiResta said within the article. “Stanford has racked up enormous legal fees. The future of the SIO is uncertain, and its efforts to monitor election-related misinformation have been put on hold.”

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan has led right-wing opposition to disinformation efforts, arguing that conservatives can be censored if their social media posts were labeled as misinformation and claiming that the observatory colludes with the federal government.

“Freedom of expression wins again!” Jordan posted on X (formerly Twitter)after the alleged closure of the middle was reported.

DiResta has denied that the middle, together with the Election Integrity Partnership, has the authority to delete posts. The social media corporations, but not the observatory, have the authority to delete posts on their respective platforms.

The partnership, which culminated in an almost 300-page report, continued until the 2022 election. But in accordance with the EIP website, “the project ended its work after the 2022 election and will not participate in the 2024 election or future elections.”

“The EIP’s collaborative model was tailored to a specific event – ​​the 2020 election,” the researchers wrote within the report.

Stanford’s Cyber ​​​​Policy Center said in a opinion On Monday, the SIO announced that it might “continue its important work” under the leadership of Faculty Director Jeff Hancock.

“SIO will continue its important work on child safety and other online dangers, the publication of the Journal of Online Trust & Safety, the Trust & Safety Research Conference, and the Trust & Safety Teaching Consortium,” the statement said. “In addition, SIO faculty and staff will continue their work on psychological and media research issues related to misinformation surrounding the 2024 election.”

The center, which began in 2019 with a $5 million grant from Craig Newman Philanthropies, openly admitted that he was facing funding challenges.

“[The center’s] Startup grants will soon run out, so under new leadership, SIO continues to actively seek support for its research and teaching programs,” Stanford said.

Kate Starbird, co-founder and school director of CIP, wrote in a 2023 Seattle Times opinion piece: “[a]“At UW, we will not back down or be intimidated. Our team plans to continue our rapid investigation during the 2024 election.”

“Although we are no longer working with the original Election Integrity Partnership partners on 'rapid research,' our real-time election research at the UW continues and we are forming new collaborations to support and share this work,” Starbird wrote in a recent email to this news organization. “We continue to collaborate with researchers at the SIO on work related to online rumors and misinformation.”

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