Stanford's Spooky 'Disinformation' Research Center Closing Up Shop

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Friday, Jun 14, 2024 - 05:55 PM

After it was exposed as a quasi-government "disinformation" academic research center, and several lawsuits later, the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) is being shuttered after founding director Alex Stamos left his position in November, and research director Renee DiResta left last week after her contract was not renewed.

SIO notably led a project initiated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) called the virality project, which sought to censor those who questioned government Covid-19 policies. The Virality Project primarily focused on so-called "anti-vaccine" "misinformation," and pushed social media platforms to censor "true stories," according to journalist Andrew Lowenthal, who added that the censorship was "often done incompetently and without even a cursory investigation of the original sources."


In one instance, the Virality Project reporters told platforms that reports of a child injured in a vaccine trial were “false” due to the timing; citing the dates of a Moderna trial when in fact the child had been in a Pfizer trial, Lowenthal noted in March;

In one instance, the Virality Project reporters told platforms that reports of a child injured in a vaccine trial were “false” due to the timing; citing the dates of a Moderna trial when in fact the child had been in a Pfizer trial.

Trigger-happy researchers-turned-activists at the Virality Project went further, alerting their Big Tech partners (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok) of protests, jokes, and general dissent.

Led by former CIA fellow Renee DiResta, the Virality Project functioned as an intermediary for government censorship. Ties between the US government and the academic research center were extremely close. DHS had “fellows” embedded at the Stanford Internet Observatory, while SIO had interns embedded at CISA, and former DHS staff contributed to the Virality Project’s final report.

The Virality Project also had contact with the White House and the Office of the Surgeon General, described the CDC as a “partner” in its design documents, and the California Department of Public Health had a login to access the Jira content flagging system, as did CISA personnel.

After this insidious relationship was exposed, a lawsuit was filed in May of last year in Louisiana against SIO and key players, including Stamos and DiResta, as well as the Atlantic Council, the group's Digital Forensics Research lab, and senior lab director Graham Brookie, who is said to have played a "leading role in the censorship activities."

The lawsuit, filed by Jim Hoft, founder of The Gateway Pundit, and Jill Hines, the co-director of Health Freedom Louisiana, a consumer and human rights advocacy organization, alleges that the defendants caused the censorship of Hines, Hoft and others based on their viewpoints over the 2020 election and Covid-19. As The Federalist noted at the time;

Those allegations indicate government actors helped coordinate the establishment of the EIP, funded its activities, and fed it complaints of supposed election and Covid disinformation and misinformation that the EIP then forwarded to the social media companies for censorship. The complaint also alleged the defendants viewed the EIP as a way to skirt the First Amendment and do for the government what the Constitution prohibited the government from doing for itself: censor speech. 


Renee DiResta, CIA Fellow turned Stanford Internet Observatory research manager

But then I learned that DiResta had worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The journalist Matt Taibbi pointed me to the investigative research into the censorship industry by Mike Benz, a former State Department official in charge of cybersecurity. Benz had discovered a little-viewed video of her supervisor at the Stanford Internet Observatory, Alex Stamos, mentioning in an off-hand way that DiResta had previously “worked for the CIA.”

In her response to my criticism of her on Joe Rogan, DiResta acknowledged but then waved away her CIA connection. “My purported secret-agent double life was an undergraduate student fellowship at CIA, ending in 2004 — years prior to Twitter’s founding,” she wrote. “I’ve had no affiliation since.”

But DiResta’s acknowledgment of her connection to the CIA is significant, if only because she hid it for so long. DiResta’s LinkedIn includes her undergraduate education at Stony Brook University, graduating in 2004, and her job as a trader at Jane Street from October 2004 to May 2011, but does not mention her time at the CIA.


A large amount of CIA involvement in content moderation requests was discovered through Twitter Files. “CIA officials attended at least one conference with Twitter in the summer of 2020,” writes Taibbi, “and companies like Twitter and Facebook received ‘OGA [Other Government Agencies, which is code for CIA] briefings,’ at their regular ‘industry meetings held in conjunction with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

Of course, much like the aborted DHS 'Disinformation Governance Board' headed by Nina Jankowicz - who has since registered as a foreign agent to combat 'influence operations' in the UK...

...we're sure SIO is just going to grow another tentacle, at another institution, and continue doing the exact same thing.