Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos will leave the company on August 17, he has announced. Facebook says it does not intend to appoint a successor.
Following concerns about the privacy and potential abuse of Facebook users’ data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company has been increasing its efforts to prevent misinformation campaigns and the use of fake accounts.
Part of this effort has involved the restructuring of Facebook’s security team – rather than operating as a stand-alone unit, security staff will now be integrated into product and engineering teams. Stamos was instrumental in this process, which according to a spokesperson for Facebook “has helped us do more to keep people safe, from detecting fake accounts in new ways, to stopping more malicious actors who manipulate people to spread falsehoods or share sensitive information.”
It is critical that we as an industry live up to our collective responsibility to consider the impact of what we build.
– Alex Stamos, Chief Security Officer, Facebook
Stamos will be joining Stanford University as an adjunct professor, where he will also be part of a faculty working group called ‘Information Warfare’, examining the role of security and technology in society. He says that he plans to study the upcoming midterms and the role of technology, as well as election security and misinformation campaigns more broadly, as well as more general information security questions such as how passwords can be made more secure.
When Stamos initially announced his intention to leave, The New York Times suggested that the decision was due to Facebook’s resistance to his recommendations for improving both security and disclosure. As a passionate advocate for transparency and security, with a strong track record on challenging perceived inadequacies – including at Facebook – the suggestion is far from implausible.
However, the bridge doesn’t seem to have been completely burned – Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg says that the company will continue to collaborate with Stamos in his new role.
“It is critical that we as an industry live up to our collective responsibility to consider the impact of what we build, and I look forward to continued collaboration and partnership with the security and safety teams at Facebook,” said Stamos in a Facebook post.