Image - Renée DiResta and the word "invisible"
San Francisco

Renée DiResta: The Invisible Rulers Turning Lies Into Reality

In-person TicketsOnline-only Tickets

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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 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.


This program has 2 types of tickets available: in-person and online-only. Please pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event.

If you have symptoms of illness (coughing, fever, etc.), we ask that you either stay home or wear a mask. Our front desk has complimentary masks for members and guests who would like one.

Commonwealth Club World Affairs of California is a nonprofit public forum; we welcome donations made during registration to support the production of our programming.

Copies of Invisible Rulers are available for purchase during checkout (U.S. domestic shipping only).

Photo by Bill Wadman.

All ticket sales are final and nonrefundable.

Mon, Jun 17 / 6:00 PM PDT

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

Image - Renée DiResta

Renée DiResta

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



5:30 p.m. doors open & check-in
6–7 p.m. program
7 p.m. book signing
(all times Pacific Time)


$12 members
$22 nonmembers
$46 members with a book
$56 nonmembers with a book
Free for Leadership Circle members and students (without a book)
Free for members
$10 nonmembers
$34 members with a book
$44 nonmembers with a book
Free for Leadership Circle members and students (without a book)