Image - Renée DiResta and the word "invisible"
Past Event

Renée DiResta: The Invisible Rulers Turning Lies Into Reality

Just what is the machinery that powers hugely influential propaganda? How does it work? Who’s behind it? And what can people do about it?

Renée DiResta, a writer and former researcher with Stanford’s Internet Observatory, comes to Commonwealth Club World Affairs to share her research into the way power and influence have been profoundly transformed, how a virtual rumor mill of niche propagandists increasingly shapes public opinion. She says that while propagandists position themselves as trustworthy Davids, their reach, influence, and economics make them classic Goliaths—invisible rulers who create bespoke realities to revolutionize politics, culture, and society. Their work is driven by a simple maxim: if you make it trend, you make it true.

By revealing the machinery and dynamics of the interplay between influencers, algorithms, and online crowds, DiResta vividly illustrates the way propagandists deliberately undermine belief in the fundamental legitimacy of institutions that make society work. This alternate system for shaping public opinion, unexamined until now, is rewriting the relationship between the people and their government in profound ways. It has become a force so shockingly effective that its destructive power can seem limitless. Scientific proof is often powerless in front of it. Democratic validity is bulldozed by it. Leaders are humiliated by it.

But they need not be. Join us as DiResta not only predicts the consequences of these online propagandists but offers ways for leaders to rapidly adapt and fight back.


Photo by Bill Wadman.

June 17, 2024

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Taube Family Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Renée DiResta

Renée DiResta

Former Technical Research Manager, Stanford Internet Observatory; Author, Invisible Rulers: The People Who Turn Lies into Reality

Image - Quentin Hardy

In Conversation with Quentin Hardy

Independent Technology Journalist