Facebook CSO Alex Stamos departing, won't be replaced

The outspoken chief security officer has helped Facebook reorganize its security team, amid its ongoing effort to stop abuse of its platform.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos is leaving the company later this month, he announced Wednesday.

Facebook won't replace Stamos, as the New York Times initially reported and the company confirmed to ZDNet. Earlier this year, Stamos helped the Silicon Valley tech giant revamp its approach to security, embedding its security experts -- teams of engineers, analysts, investigators and others -- directly into its product and engineering teams.

"We are investing heavily in security to address new types of threats for the people who use our services," the spokesperson said in a statement. The new structure, the spokesperson said, "has helped us do more to keep people safe, from detecting fake accounts in new ways, to stopping more malicious actors who manipulate people to spread falsehoods or share sensitive information."

The changes come at a tumultuous time for Facebook, as it publicly grapples with the complicated work of stopping the abuse of its platform -- including election interference and misinformation campaigns. Just a day earlier, Facebook revealed it had banned several "inauthentic" accounts from its platforms after concluding they were part of malicious efforts to manipulate American voters. Stamos explained in a briefing how difficult it is to determine who exactly is responsible for the accounts.

In a Facebook post published Wednesday, Stamos wrote, "It is critical that we as an industry live up to our collective responsibility to consider the impact of what we build, and I look forward to continued collaboration and partnership with the security and safety teams at Facebook."

Stamos said his last day at Facebook will be August 17, after which he will join Stanford University in a teaching and research role.

In a statement, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said Facebook looks forward to collaborating with Stamos in his new role. "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," she said.

Stamos, an outspoken security and privacy advocate, joined Facebook in June 2015 after briefly serving as CIO at Yahoo. The New York Times reported earlier this year that Stamos planned to leave Facebook after butting heads with other executives over how much to disclose about Russian election interference on the social network. During an internal talk with Facebook employees last October, leaked to ZDNet, Stamos said the company had not done enough to respond to growing security threats, likening its internal security practices to that of a college campus.

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