Stanford Internet Observatory to Shut Down: Report

The Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), an organization that censored voices during the 2020 election, is shutting down.

Sources close to the matter told Platformer News that the founding director of SIO, Alex Stamos, left his position in November. SIO’s research director, Renee DiResta, left last week.

Other staff members have been told to look for other jobs, sources familiar said.

What remains of the SIO will be given to Jeff Hancock, the lab’s faculty sponsor and organizer of the Stanford Social Media Lab.

Two SIO efforts, the peer-reviewed Journal of Online Trust and Safety and its Trust and Safety Research Conference, will continue despite the SIO’s dismantling.

Stanford claims the SIO is not being shut down, but reorganized.

“The important work of SIO continues under new leadership, including its critical work on child safety and other online harms, its publication of the Journal of Online Trust and Safety, the Trust and Safety Research Conference, and the Trust and Safety Teaching Consortium,” a spokesperson told Platformer News. “Stanford remains deeply concerned about efforts, including lawsuits and congressional investigations, that chill freedom of inquiry and undermine legitimate and much needed academic research – both at Stanford and across academia.”

The House Judiciary Committee said in a statement on X, “BIG WIN.”

“Free speech wins!” the statement added.

Last year, the House Judiciary Committee expressed concerns about the SIO’s alleged role in censoring free speech.

The Committee accused SIO of “involvement in the censorship of disfavored speech,” citing SIO’s membership in the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) and the Virality Project (VP).

The Committee alleges that large social media companies moderated content based on tickets for mis- and disinformation shared by Stanford personnel.

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