Saturday, August 25, 2018

Facebook’s top security executive exits amid fake accounts probe

Facebook Inc’s top security executive said he’s leaving for an
academic post at Stanford University, just one day after the
company disclosed a new coordinated effort to sow political
division in the U.S. through fake accounts on the social-media
site.
Starting in September, chief security officer Alex Stamos will
teach full-time at Stanford and do research focusing on
cybersecurity and technology policy, according to a Facebook
post.
Stamos initially joined Facebook from Yahoo! Inc in 2015.
Stamos’s tenure was defined by the crisis over how, and to what
extent, the Russian government used Facebook to try to
influence US politics during and after the 2016 presidential
election. Stamos often battled Facebook’s critics on Twitter,
defending his and the company’s actions.
That cut a contrast to the diplomatic and tight-lipped approach
used by more senior executives such as Chief Operating Officer
Sheryl Sandberg and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.
“I have been proud to work with some of the most skilled and
dedicated security professionals in the world in one of the
most difficult threat environments faced by any technology
company,” Stamos wrote. “It is critical that we as an industry
live up to our collective responsibility to consider the impact
of what we build.”
The latest disclosure from Facebook came on Tuesday, when the
company said it had identified a new batch of accounts that
were trying to stir up political discord in the US ahead of the
2018 midterm elections. Facebook hasn’t identified who is
behind the new accounts.
The tactics used in this campaign are more sophisticated than
the relatively crude methods used by the Russian
government-linked Internet Research Agency in 2016, the company
said.
The new discovery shows how difficult it has been to stop bad
actors from exploiting social media in an effort to influence
political opinions. Facebook has ramped up security spending
and hired an army of new moderators to better police its global
site.
Stamos is the latest high-profile executive to say he plans to
leave Menlo Park, California-based Facebook this year.
The company is also losing its chief counsel, Colin Stretch,
and head of policy, Elliot Schrage, both of whom were also
involved in helping the company deal with the fallout from
Russian political interference.

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