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Facebook Security Chief Said to Leave After Clashes Over Disinformation

Nicole Perlroth, Sheera Frenkel, and Scott Shane:

Facebook’s chief information security officer, Alex Stamos, will leave the company after internal disagreements over how the social network should deal with its role in spreading disinformation, according to current and former employees briefed on the matter.

Mr. Stamos had been a strong advocate inside the company for investigating and disclosing Russian activity on Facebook, often to the consternation of other top executives, including Sheryl Sandberg, the social network’s chief operating officer, according to the current and former employees, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

That Sandberg and (presumably) Zuckerberg resisted investigating and disclosing everything they could about how the Russians took advantage of them says everything you need to know about them.

See also: Stamos wrote a series of tweets over the weekend regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but deleted them.

Update, Tuesday 20 March: The Times’s report was expanded significantly late yesterday. This part is new, and I think incredibly damning:

Mr. Stamos first put together a group of engineers to scour Facebook for Russian activity in June 2016, the month the Democratic National Committee announced it had been attacked by Russian hackers, the current and former employees said.

By November 2016, the team had uncovered evidence that Russian operatives had aggressively pushed DNC leaks and propaganda on Facebook. That same month, Mr. Zuckerberg publicly dismissed the notion that fake news influenced the 2016 election, calling it a “pretty crazy idea.”

So where by “pretty crazy idea” Zuckerberg meant “Yeah, we’ve determined that’s exactly what happened.”

Mr. Stamos pushed to disclose as much as possible, while others including Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of communications and policy, recommended not naming Russia without more ironclad evidence, said the current and former employees.

A detailed memorandum Mr. Stamos wrote in early 2017 describing Russian interference was scrubbed for mentions of Russia and winnowed into a blog post last April that outlined, in hypothetical terms, how Facebook could be manipulated by a foreign adversary, they said. Russia was only referenced in a vague footnote.

So Facebook is forcing out Stamos, the one executive with the moral backbone to do the right thing in response to what they’d allowed to happen.

Monday, 19 March 2018