Alex Stamos, Facebook’s Security Chief looked like the first to face the firing squad from the company’s inner team as they struggle to respond to mounting pressure regarding this weekend’s explosive data revelations.
Admittedly he announced his resignation, apparently of his own accord, in relation to previous disagreements regarding Russian access to data and it had actually been a process in motion since last year. However, the decisions’ coincidental timing alongside the weekend’s tech turmoil not only signifies the first hint of dissent within the inner ranks, but also a sign that Facebook is beginning to feel the increasing calls for a meaningful response.
It has been reported by the New York Times that although the decision looks to have been arranged as far back as last year, the key factor in this staff reshuffle is in fact tied to the Security Chief’s desire to be more open about security issues than other people on the Facebook board. The report continues to disclose a dissatisfaction among Executives – who wanted to keep Russian meddling under wraps – and Stamos who apparently was more intent on being open about the data acquisition.
Stamos’ position as Chief Security Officer began in December 2015 following years of practice in security for Yahoo, revealing him as a relatively new member of the higher board. However, it is alleged that throughout his tenure, the company’s legal and policy teams were constantly fraught against the opinions of Stamos and the security staff, resulting in the internal disputes and the eventual resignation. Since the news, his security team of over 120 staff were also re-assigned to different areas however he was still asked to remain in his position until August to ensure a smooth transition.
Despite the rumors, I'm still fully engaged with my work at Facebook. It's true that my role did change. I'm currently spending more time exploring emerging security risks and working on election security.
— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) March 19, 2018
Amidst the debacle of the weekend, sources have reported that Facebook had also asked Alex Stamos to tweet in defense of his company, only after being approved by the Facebook executives themselves – however, the tweets have since been deleted.
In light of the announcement that Mark Zuckerberg will be making an official statement on the breach within the next 24 hours (quite an unusual move for the otherwise relatively tight-lipped Facebook HQ) the resignation of Stamos signifies the first move of a company that now more than ever, needs to face the music.
However, it looks like a lot more is set to come out of the woodworks before any real progress can happen. In a grilling of former Facebook Operations Manager Sandy Parakilas by a UK Parliamentary Select Committee just this morning, Parakilas reiterated the knowledge that it was in December 2015 that Facebook was aware that Cambridge Analytica was using the platform’s data, and not much had been done to resolve the situation since that time. When asked by the committee whether this was ‘a data breach or a failure of procedure?’ Parakilas responded that it was worse than a data breach.
‘The effect on the users was the same as a data breach, and it should be treated in that way.’
For the time being Facebook remains swept up in a vast, ferocious media storm, the dark clouds of which the company appeared to have completely overlooked. What will be interesting when the dust has somewhat settled and when the cries for #deletefacebook move onto yet another demanding social issue – though I doubt this will happen anytime soon – is who exactly will take the fall (or be pushed) into the abyss of blame surrounding what might become Facebook’s most infamous data breach. Amidst the inner bickering of Facebook HQ, of which we will never have the pleasure of truly experiencing, fingers seem to point to Stamos as becoming a scapegoat for the scandal – despite his efforts to push for more company transparency, he was after all still in charge of security. Despite scouring for which staff members might be to blame somehow, whether Facebook can recover completely from this still remains to be seen.