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Facebook's Alex Stamos: 'We need to build a user experience that conveys honesty'

The outgoing chief security officer sent a memo to staff in March about taking responsibility for the company's flaws, BuzzFeed News reports.

Alex Stamos

Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos sent a memo to colleagues days after confirming he was leaving the company, according to BuzzFeed News.

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In late March, Facebook's outgoing chief security officer, Alex Stamos, sent a memo to staff urging them to take responsibility for the company's shortcomings soon after confirming he would leave the social network, according to BuzzFeed News

In the memo, he reportedly wrote the company's problems were linked to "tens of thousands of small decisions made over the last decade." The note hadn't been shared outside of Facebook before Tuesday's report, BuzzFeed said. 

"We need to build a user experience that conveys honesty and respect, not one optimized to get people to click yes to giving us more access," Stamos reportedly wrote. "We need to intentionally not collect data where possible, and to keep it only as long as we are using it to serve people."

"We need to listen to people (including internally) when they tell us a feature is creepy or point out a negative impact we are having in the world," he added. "We need to deprioritize short-term growth and revenue and to explain to Wall Street why that is OK. We need to be willing to pick sides when there are clear moral or humanitarian issues. And we need to be open, honest and transparent about our challenges and what we are doing to fix them."

Facebook and Stamos didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. 

News of Stamos' departure came as Facebook said it was investigating Russian trolls abusing its services during the 2016 US election, in addition to the spread of misinformation on the platform. Stamos reportedly clashed with top executives such as COO Sheryl Sandberg about how the company should handle the situation.

The March memo, which was called "A Difficult Week," came on the heels of news about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which data from as many as 87 million Facebook users was improperly shared with the political consultancy. After the scandal, Stamos confirmed he would leave Facebook by August, but said the decision had to do with his day-to-day duties being reassigned following an internal reorganization, rather than revelations about Cambridge Analytica

"We need to build a user experience that conveys honesty and respect, not one optimized to get people to click yes to giving us more access," Stamos wrote in the memo, according to BuzzFeed News. "We need to intentionally not collect data where possible, and to keep it only as long as we are using it to serve people."

He also reportedly noted the importance of having to "win back the world's trust," something Facebook has been pushing for following revelations about Cambridge Analytica and Russian trolls. 

"It would be really simple to believe that the outcomes of arguments between a handful of people got us to this point, but the truth is that we need to all own this," he reportedly wrote.

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