Facebook security chief reportedly planning to leave company

Alex Stamos says he's "still fully engaged" with his work at Facebook, though his role has changed. Questions about Stamos come as Facebook deals with a privacy flap linked to Cambridge Analytica.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
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Richard Nieva
Laura Hautala
2 min read

Facebook's security chief Alex Stamos is reportedly leaving the company.


Alex Stamos, Facebook's outspoken chief security officer, is planning to leave the company, according to a report Monday by The New York Times.

The apparent reasons for the departure are Facebook's disclosures of a company investigation into Russian trolls abusing its services during the 2016 US election and the spread of misinformation on the site. Stamos reportedly clashed with top executives, including COO Sheryl Sandberg, over how the company should handle the situation.

According to The Times report, Stamos initially told the company he wanted to leave in December, after his day-to-day duties were reassigned. He was convinced to stay until August to help see through the transition of his responsibilities.

Stamos responded Monday to the report with a tweet that didn't explicitly address whether he intended to leave Facebook.

"Despite the rumors, I'm still fully engaged with my work at Facebook," he tweeted. "It's true that my role did change. I'm currently spending more time exploring emerging security risks and working on election security." 

A Facebook spokeswoman echoed Stamos' sentiment in a statement. "Alex Stamos continues to be the Chief Security Officer (CSO) at Facebook," the statement said. "He has held this position for nearly three years and leads our security efforts especially around emerging security risks. He is a valued member of the team and we are grateful for all he does each and every day."

The spokeswoman didn't directly address whether Stamos was planning to leave the company. 

The news comes as Facebook deals with a controversy over Cambridge Analytica and its reported misuse of data from 50 million Facebook accounts.

This isn't the first time Stamos has left a C-suite position at a major tech company in the midst of controversy. Stamos left Yahoo in 2015, and Reuters later reported that he left in protest of Yahoo complying with a request from NSA to create scanning technology to comb through users' incoming emails.

Stamos made waves on Twitter this weekend when he criticized The New York Times and the Guardian for their portrayals of the way data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica used Facebook user data. The tweets said the situation, in which the firm accessed information from millions of Facebook accounts, wasn't a data breach or a leak. Then, he deleted those tweets.

Known for bursts of candidness on Twitter, Stamos has tweeted out his thoughts on a range of issues during his tenure at Facebook. In October, he let fly a string of tweets about the news media's coverage of artificial intelligence technology, which he said painted Silicon Valley unfairly as clueless.

"Nobody of substance at the big companies thinks of algorithms as neutral," he wrote. "Nobody is not aware of the risks."