Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, will leave the company later this year, according to The New York Times. His departure reportedly comes as a result of disagreements over how to handle the spread of misinformation on the social network.
As part of Stamos leaving, Facebook has reportedly broken down and reassigned his security team. Almost all of the 120 employees have now been reassigned to product and infrastructure teams, according to the report; it’s unclear if Facebook maintains some other dedicated security team, or if this means security teams are now integrated into other departments.
Stamos’ departure was reportedly decided on last year, but the company decided to keep him on until August to help transition his duties to others — and so that it wouldn’t look quite as bad for Facebook amid continued discoveries about Russia’s abuse of the platform during the 2016 US election. With the news breaking days after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it actually looks worse.
The report indicates that Stamos wanted to be more open about security issues than other executives inside Facebook. He reportedly began investigating Russian activity in July 2016 and later pushed the company, sometimes unsuccessfully, to be open about its findings. According to the report, Facebook executives appear to be unhappy with Stamos’ approach and seem to blame much of the recent backlash against the company on the decision to disclose information about Russian election tampering, rather than stay quiet.
In a tweet, Stamos said his role has changed inside of Facebook but that he remains “fully engaged.” However, he did not deny that he would be leaving. “I’m currently spending more time exploring emerging security risks and working on election security,” Stamos wrote. Reuters also reported that he would be departing in August and that his responsibilities had been “taken away.”
Facebook said in an emailed statement that Stamos remains the company’s chief security officer, without acknowledging any change in his role. But like Stamos’ tweet, the statement doesn’t deny that he’ll be leaving. “Alex Stamos continues to be the Chief Security Officer (CSO) at Facebook,” a spokesperson said. “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.”
Stamos started at Facebook in 2015. Prior to that, he was the chief information security officer at Yahoo. According to Reuters, he resigned after a year after discovering that Yahoo had secretly built a program to scan all incoming email for the NSA or FBI.
In recent months, Stamos has been among the Facebook executives willing to talk about the company and its ongoing problems on Twitter. Over the weekend, he took issue with the characterization of Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook info as a “data breach,” since hackers did not penetrate any systems. In fact, Facebook was set up to allow third parties to misuse data without any such difficulty.