Facebook’s security chief Alex Stamos is planning on leaving the company, according to the New York Times. Stamos–one of the more public-facing employees at the company–is parting ways over disagreements with how the company has handled its problem with misinformation.
Stamos—who led the team that studied “information operations” on Facebook and Instagram in the wake of the 2016 U.S. election—is known as a prolific tweeter, and has long defended Facebook’s actions when it came to security and political interference. After his day-to-day responsibilities were reassigned to others in December, he announced his intentions to leave, but was asked to remain on through August, according to today’s Times report. Stamos has been helping his team transition to Facebook’s product and infrastructure divisions; the security veteran once oversaw over 120, but now reportedly only three people answer to him.
In a tweet this evening, Stamos appeared to dispute the Times story. “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.” He did not address his future plans.
Facebook has come under new fire over revelations that data firm Cambridge Analytica was able to access millions of users’ personal data and use it for political microtargeting. When this news broke, Stamos took to Twitter to defend and contextualize Facebook’s actions, arguing that the incident did not amount to a “data breach.”
“Kogan [the contractor working for Cambridge Analytica] did not break into any systems, bypass any technical controls, or use a flaw in our software to gather more data than allowed. He did, however, misuse that data after he gathered it, but that does not retroactively make it a ‘breach.'” Stamos later deleted the tweet and others about the incident.
— april glaser (@aprilaser) March 17, 2018
“I have deleted my Tweets on Cambridge Analytica, not because they were factually incorrect but because I should have done a better job weighing in,” he later tweeted. “There are a lot of big problems that the big tech companies need to be better at fixing. We have collectively been too optimistic about what we build and our impact on the world. Believe it or not, a lot of the people at these companies, from the interns to the CEOs, agree.”
Facebook’s stock saw a huge drop today following the Cambridge Analytica reports. The company’s market capitalization shrunk by nearly $40 billion, and CNBC reports that Mark Zuckerberg lost $6.06 billion because of the share slump. The stock closed today nearly 7% down.
Stamos’s leaving likely won’t assuage investors’ fears either.