The attribution.news project is a joint initiative led by First Draft and the Stanford Internet Observatory.
To date, most of the explanations of attribution methodologies have been found in scholarly literature or professional investigative reports, with little emphasis on how best to communicate these findings to the public. This website aims to provide more accessible background explanations to assist reporters in covering attribution.
The successful communication of attribution to the public is not solely the responsibility of journalists. The entities that make attribution judgments and wish to convey the criticality of an event also have a responsibility to present their claims in clear and accurate attribution language, backed by forensics, that reporters can then use in their coverage.
This project provides an opportunity to bring together newsrooms, cybersecurity experts and disinformation researchers in a conversation about how best to communicate attribution to the public.
First Draft is a global organization whose mission is to empower societies with accurate information in critical moments. First Draft works with journalists, academics, technologists and the general public to ensure the integrity of the world’s information ecosystem, developing and delivering pioneering techniques, tools and training for how information is discovered, shared and presented. More information about First Draft can be found here.
The Stanford Internet Observatory is a cross-disciplinary program of research, teaching and policy engagement for the study of abuse in current information technologies, with a focus on social media. Under the program direction of computer security expert Alex Stamos, the Observatory was created to learn about the abuse of the internet in real time, to develop a novel curriculum on trust and safety that is a first in computer science, and to translate our research discoveries into training and policy innovations for the public good. More information about SIO and our ongoing research projects can be found here.
We would like to extend our gratitude to the following individuals who generously volunteered their time and provided invaluable comments on a draft of these resources: Ben Buchanan, Assistant Teaching Professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service; Andrew Grotto, Director of the Program on Geopolitics, Technology, and Governance at Stanford University; Janine Zacharia, foreign affairs reporter and visiting lecturer at the Stanford University Department of Communication; and Kim Zetter, investigative journalist and author of “Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon.” Any errors or deficiencies on this site are ours alone.
Carly Miller, Renee DiResta, Alex Stamos, Elena Cryst, Stanford Internet Observatory
Victoria Kwan, Claire Wardle, First Draft