According to a New York Times report, Facebook’s Chief Security Officer (CSO), Alex Stamos, will be leaving the company in August over a dispute on how to deal with the rise of nation-state disinformation on the platform. Stamos confirmed only that his role has changed at Facebook, but not that he will leave the company in August.
Facebook And Disinformation
The NYT reported that the dispute between Stamos and Facebook’s leadership happened over how much information the company should share about how nation-states have misused the platform, as well as what changes to make before the 2018 U.S. mid-term elections.
The seven NYT sources, who are current and former Facebook employees, said that Stamos had advocated for more disclosure around Russian interference on the platform, but he was met with resistance from colleagues. Starting last December, Stamos’ day-to-day job was reassigned to others.
The sources also said that Stamos wanted to leave, but he was convinced to stay until August, because his departure will look bad for the company. Since December, his team, which once numbered 120 people, has been transferred to other Facebook divisions. He now has only three people in his charge.
The NYT report also noted that a strong tension has existed inside Facebook between the policy team and the security team. The former wanted to put Facebook’s business first, while the latter wanted to push for more disclosure about how nation-states used the site.
According to the NYT, once the Cambridge Analytica story came out, Facebook’s communications team encouraged Stamos to tweet in defense of the company, but only after his tweets were pre-approved by the communications team. In one of these tweets, Stamos said the Cambridge Analytica data leak was not a “data breach,” as it was initially called by the Observer, which first reported the story.
Stamos has since deleted that tweet, but he said that he did so only because he didn’t do a better job explaining why it wasn’t a data breach, and not because his tweet was incorrect.
It looks like Facebook is trying to take control over the messaging to the public surrounding issues such as nation-state propaganda, data leaks, and other stories that may make the company look bad. However, the more the leadership seems to try and exert control, the more current and former employees seem to be coming out with information about what’s really happening inside the company. That should also be a hint that it’s probably not the last time we’ll hear some unexpected information about the company.