Stanford’s top disinformation research group collapses under pressure

The Stanford Internet Observatory, which published some of the most influential analysis of the spread of false information on social media during elections, has shed most of its staff and may shut down amid political and legal attacks that have cast a pall on efforts to study online misinformation.

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Just three staffers remain at the Observatory, and they will either leave or find roles at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center, which is absorbing what remains of the program, according to eight people familiar with the developments, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters...

Two ongoing lawsuits and two congressional inquiries into the Observatory have cost Stanford millions of dollars in legal fees, one of the people told The Washington Post. Students and scholars affiliated with the program say they have been worn down by online attacks and harassment amid the heated political climate for misinformation research, as legislators threaten to cut federal funding to universities studying propaganda.

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