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Facebook security chief departing company for Stanford

The respected security expert played a key role in the social media giant’s response to election meddling.

Alex Stamos
Alex Stamos, Facebook's security chief, is departing.
Getty Images

Facebook is losing its high-profile security chief.

Alex Stamos, who has been in the role since 2015, said Wednesday that he's leaving the social network for a research and teaching role at Stanford University. His last day at Facebook is Aug. 17.

Stamos played a central role in Facebook's response to interference by Russian trolls in the 2016 US presidential election that took place on the social media giant. On Tuesday, a day before he announced his departure, Stamos answered questions from reporters as Facebook announced another campaign coordinated by fake accounts that was designed to influence the 2018 US midterm elections.

"It is critical that we as an industry live up to our collective responsibility to consider the impact of what we build," Stamos wrote in a Facebook post. Though he was moving on, Stamos said he looked forward to "continued collaboration and partnership" with Facebook's security and safety teams.

For the last three years, I have been proud to work with some of the most skilled and dedicated security professionals...

Posted by Alex Stamos on Wednesday, August 1, 2018

When he starts at Stanford in September, Stamos will join the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies as an adjunct professor. He will also study the misuse of technology, as well as teach in a new master's specialty in cybersecurity, his post said.

Stamos started at Facebook three years ago after a year-long tenure as Yahoo's chief information security officer. In both jobs, he earned a reputation for confronting other company leaders over challenging privacy issues. At Yahoo, he reportedly clashed with then-CEO Marissa Mayer over spending on cybersecurity. Similarly, he reportedly left Yahoo after the company agreed to create a tool for the US National Security Agency that would scan select users' emails.

At Facebook, Stamos reportedly locked horns with leadership over taking the threat of coordinated influence campaigns on the social network seriously.

On Wednesday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recognized Stamos's contributions to security at Facebook.

"Alex has played an important role in how we approach security challenges and helped us build relationships with partners so we can better address the threats we face," Sandberg said in a statement. "We know he will be an enormous asset to the team at Stanford and we look forward to collaborating with him in his new role." 

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