Alex Stamos, who as chief information security officer was one of the more articulate defenders of Facebook’s struggle to balance privacy concerns against its business model, is leaving the company following a series of disputes with top Facebook executives, according to a report.
The New York Times reported Monday that Stamos, a respected executive within the cybersecurity community, was actually relieved of his duties last December after disagreements with Facebook’s executive team over how to handle its response to the Russian disinformation campaign that plagued its site during the 2016 election year. The company persuaded him to stay on through August because — in case you haven’t noticed — Facebook has been in the middle of the biggest crisis of its life since the full extent of the disinformation campaign became clear last year.
They thought it would look bad, according to the report.
In a tweet posted after the report emerged, Stamos did not directly address whether he would be leaving Facebook by August, but appeared to confirm the part of the report that his internal security duties had been reassigned to other groups.
Likewise, Facebook’s statement entirely ignored questions about the August date.
Alex Stamos continues to be the Chief Security Officer (CSO) at Facebook. He has held this position for nearly three years and leads our security efforts especially around emerging security risks. He is a valued member of the team and we are grateful for all he does each and every day.
Despite the rumors, I'm still fully engaged with my work at Facebook. It's true that my role did change. I'm currently spending more time exploring emerging security risks and working on election security.
— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) March 19, 2018
Stamos is a thoughtful presence on Twitter (of all places), and over the last year or so has helped many people understand the technical nuances of running such a massive platform as Facebook while speaking for the company when few others would. It has been pretty clear in the time since the 2016 election that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg have only grudgingly — and slowly — acknowledged the extent to which their platform was abused by charlatans looking to sow discord and division through a treasure trove of fake content.
And this news comes out on one of the worse Mondays in Facebook’s recent history, following reports over the weekend that outlined the shocking extent to which Cambridge Analytica, a Facebook partner and key Republican strategy firm, exploited loopholes in Facebook’s system to obtain the personal information of millions of people who did not consent to such disclosure. Facebook’s stock fell 6.7 percent Monday, the first trading day following the reports.