As Facebook deals with the fallout of their latest user data scandal, the company’s data security chief, Alex Stamos, is expected to resign from his position.
The New York Times reports that as Facebook deals with backlash over the revelation that data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica allegedly developed an app called “thisisyourdigitallife” to harvest user data, the company’s Chief Information Security Officer, Alex Stamos, may be exiting the company amidst the scandal.
According to current and former employees, Facebook is reportedly facing heightened conflict amongst leadership at the company relating to disagreements about how much information the company should share about the actions of nation-states on the platform during recent elections along with disagreements over how organizational changes to the company as they begin to prepare for the 2018 midterm elections. Stamos allegedly plans to leave the company by August and previously pushed for the company to reveal further information about how Russia may have used the social media network during the 2016 elections but was met with resistance from others at the company. Stamos’ day-to-day responsibilities were reportedly assigned to others in December.
Stamos allegedly wanted to leave the company sooner but was persuaded to stay through August to assist with the transition of his responsibilities and because the company felt that his sudden departure would reflect negatively on them. Stamos has been overseeing the transfer of his security team to Facebook’s product and infrastructure divisions. Stamos’ team previously consisted of approximately 120 members; it now consists of three. Stamos’ departure from the company would mark the first Facebook executive to leave the company in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
According to the New York Times, many executives at the company are reportedly unhappy with the negative press that Facebook has received in recent months. Many allegedly believe that Facebook should not have commented on possible Russian use of the platform during the 2016 election. Sites such as Twitter were not as forthcoming with information relating to possible interference and seemed to receive less public backlash as a result. Sandy Parakilas, a former employee at Facebook who enforced privacy at the company until 2012, stated: “The people whose job is to protect the user always are fighting an uphill battle against the people whose job is to make money for the company.”
Stamos commented on rumors that he may be leaving Facebook saying “These are really challenging issues, and I’ve had some disagreements with all of my colleagues, including other executives.” Stamos stated via Twitter that he was “still fully engaged with my work at Facebook,” and briefly explained the areas he was working on including election security.
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
Tavis McGinn, who was recruited by Facebook in April and was behind the executive reputation efforts of the company until September 2017, discussed Facebook’s PR issue, saying the company was “caught in a Catch-22.” He continued, “Facebook cares so much about its image that the executives don’t want to come out and tell the whole truth when things go wrong,” he said. “But if they don’t, it damages their image.” McGinn reportedly left the company after he became disillusioned with the way the company acted.
Roger B. McNamee, an early investor in Facebook who has described himself as a mentor to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, stated that Facebook was fundamentally failing to address issues relating to the manipulation of content and user data on the platform “I told them, ‘Your business is based on trust, and you’re losing trust,’” said McNamee. “They were treating it as a P.R. problem, when it’s a business problem. I couldn’t believe these guys I once knew so well had gotten so far off track.”