Renée DiResta

@noUpside

Currently

Renée DiResta is the technical research manager at Stanford Internet Observatory, a cross-disciplinary program of research, teaching and policy engagement for the study of abuse in current information technologies. Renee investigates the spread of narratives across social and media networks, with an interest in understanding how platform algorithms and affordances intersect with user behavior and factional crowd dynamics. She studies how actors leverage the information ecosystem to exert influence, from domestic activists promoting health misinformation and conspiracy theories, to the full-spectrum information operations executed by state actors.

At the behest of SSCI, Renee led an investigation into the Russian Internet Research Agency’s multi-year effort to manipulate American society, and presented public testimony. A year later, she led an additional investigation into influence capabilities that the GRU used alongside its hack-and-leak operations in the 2016 election. Renee has studied influence operations and computational propaganda in the context of pseudoscience conspiracies, terrorist activity, and state-sponsored information warfare, and has advised Congress, the State Department, and other academic, civil society, and business organizations on the topic.

Renée regularly writes and speaks about technology policy, and influence operations. She is an Ideas contributor at Wired and The Atlantic. Her tech industry writing, analysis, talks, and data visualizations have been featured or covered by numerous media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Yale Review, Fast Company, Politico, TechCrunch, Wired, Slate, Forbes, Buzzfeed, The Economist, Journal of Commerce, and more. She appeared in the documentary The Social Dilemma.

Background

Previously, Renée was the Director of Research at Yonder. She was part of the founding team and ran marketing and business development at Haven, the transportation management technology platform that’s transforming trade logistics for commodity, CPG, and food shippers. Before that, Renée was a Principal at seed-stage venture capital fund O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV), where she invested in early technology startups with a focus on hardware, manufacturing, and logistics companies. She spent seven years on Wall Street as an equity derivatives trader and market maker at Jane Street, a top quantitative proprietary trading firm in New York City.

Renée is the author of The Hardware Startup: Building your Product, Business, and Brand, published by O’Reilly Media.

Renée has degrees in Computer Science and Political Science from the Honors College at SUNY Stony Brook. She is an Emerson Fellow, a 2018-2019 Mozilla Fellow, a 2017 Presidential Leadership Scholar, a Council on Foreign Relations term member, and a Truman National Security Fellow. She is a Harvard Berkman-Klein Center affiliate, and is a Founding Advisor to the Center for Humane Technology, and was previously a Staff Associate at the Columbia University Data Science Institute. She is passionate about STEM education and childhood immunization advocacy, and is one of the co-founders of parent advocacy organization Vaccinate California. For fun, she explores data sets and loves cooking and making things. Renée and her husband, Justin Hileman, are the parents of three feisty little people.

The Internet Research Agency Report

In late 2017, ahead of a series of Congressional hearings, Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet each turned over a data set containing text, images, videos, and other content that they attributed to the Internet Research Agency. I led one of two teams that investigated that data set with the goal of understanding the tactics, techniques, and procedures leveraged by this malign actor in an influence operation that targeted American society over a multi-year period that included the 2016 election. This is the analysis, as provided to the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The GRU Report

In 2019, a new data set emerged: a collection of Pages attributed to the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (Главное управление Генерального штаба Вооружённых сил Российской Федерации), known as the GU (or by its prior acronym GRU). I led a team that investigated that data set, which included previously unseen social media activity related to DC Leaks and other hack & leak operations executed by the GRU. Our team uncovered residual as well as active fake personas still publishing state-sponsored propaganda in unwitting independent media publications worldwide. This is the analysis of that activity, as provided to the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The Hardware Startup

The authoritative guide for the aspiring hardware founder

This book is for entrepreneurs who want to create companies around physical products. It turns the complex process of building a hardware startup into a series of accessible steps, to guide founders from the earliest stage of an idea to a beautiful final product that sells.

Written by three experts with deep experience in hardware businesses, The Hardware Startup gives you practical strategies for funding, market research, branding, prototyping, manufacturing, and distribution. Two dozen case studies of real-world startups illustrate possible successes and failures at every stage of the process.

Learn more

Speaking + writing

I write and speak about influence operations, the algorithms that shape our society, and tech policy. Here are a few selections.

Featured talks

Selected press