For years, Renée DiResta has been one of the most prominent thought leaders, ubiquitous media voices, and influential “disinfo experts” in the emergent field of professional social media censorship (i.e. the “content moderation” vocation associated with “counter-disinformation” work).
To DiResta’s already controversial censorship industry career arc (detailed extensively here), it appears one more peculiar factoid can be added: Renée DiResta “worked for the CIA” before being recruited to perhaps the most powerful domestic censorship coordinating center in all of academia, with close ties to Big Government and Big Tech: the Stanford Internet Observatory.
That DiResta “worked for the CIA” before her Stanford disinfo role are the words of the man who recruited DiResta to lead disinfo operations at the Stanford Internet Observatory: its director Alex Stamos.
The video below, clipped from a June 19, 2019 livestream (see 18:02 timestamp), is currently available for public viewing on the Stanford Internet Observatory YouTube channel. It shows Alex Stamos in June 2019 – the month the Stanford disinfo center opened – touting Renée DiResta’s employment history, boasting that DiResta had gone from a lowly “part of the academic unwashed with a… degree from a public university” all the way up to having “worked for the CIA”:
The apparent reveal of Renée DiResta’s CIA affiliation is significant to the story of Internet censorship for an usually large and disturbing number of reasons that FFO will more fully explicate in a separate report.
For an immediate primer on key context, see our November 9, 2022 report (Ctrl + F for “DiResta” for 27 references walking through DiResta’s career history and role in the censorship industry).
Michael Benz is the Executive Director of the Foundation for Freedom Online. Previously, Mr. Benz served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Communications and Information Technology at the U.S. Department of State. Follow him on Twitter @FFO_Freedom.