As Facebook’s never ending string of crises continues, internal disagreements have prompted its chief security officer to leave.
Alex Stamos is due to depart the company in August after disputes over how much Facebook should reveal about governments misusing the platform and changes within the organisation, according to the New York Times.
As the company deals with the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the continued probe into Russia’s use of Facebook in the 2016 U.S. election, Stamos was reportedly “persuaded to stay” by the company because an imminent departure would be a bad look.
Stamos had been investigating the scale of Russian interference on the social media platform with a group of engineers since June 2016. He pushed for as much to be revealed as possible, a wish opposed by the company’s legal and policy teams, who were concerned about the effects those revelations would have on the business.
Stamos joined Facebook from Yahoo in June 2015. Early on in his Facebook career, Stamos reportedly faced dismay from COO Sheryl Sandberg over how proactive the platform should be policing itself.
With his departure on the table, Stamos has reportedly handed over his duties countering government-sponsored misinformation, according to Reuters. His 120-person team is down to three, redistributed to product and infrastructure.
In a tweet, Stamos didn’t deny that reports that he was leaving, but said he is “still fully engaged” with his work, and later denied claims Facebook executives discouraged the security team from investigating Russian interference.
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
To be clear, the security team has never been prevented or discouraged from investigating any Russian activity by any executives. https://t.co/At2KSn8oXE
— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) March 20, 2018
It’s worth noting that according to the Times report, Stamos was encouraged by Facebook’s communications team to tweet in defence of the company as news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke — but only after every word had been approved.
Stamos, whose original staff of 120 people has been whittled down to 3 people, is now having his tweets dictated to him by comms staff.
— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) March 20, 2018
Those tweets were later deleted amid intense criticism, and Stamos said in a later tweet he should’ve done “a better job weighing in.”
Facebook has been contacted for comment.