Facebook (FB), the embattled social media giant that saw its market valuation lose $37 billion in trading Monday (March 18), could see its chief security head Alex Stamos leave later this year if news reports prove to be true.
Citing people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Reuters reported Stamos is gearing up to leave the social media giant over clashes with the policy team about how much to disclose about Russian meddling in the U.S. election on its platform and as a result of a change in his job profile.
News of his potential departure surfaced amid huge outcry over the latest Facebook scandal in which it was revealed Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that worked on President Donald Trump’s election, got its hands on private data of 50 million users without their consent. That has prompted calls for investigations by lawmakers and regulators in the U.S. and the U.K. It also tanked its stock and the broader market Monday (March 19) with Facebook ending the trading session down 6.8%.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Stamos has been at the center of the Facebook response to the Russian meddling in the U.S. election since it ended in November of 2016. Stamos and other security executives at the company have pushed Facebook internally to share more with the public about what the Russians did but the policy team was against that at the start. The report says Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is in charge of the policy group within Facebook. The policy team advocated for a more cautious approach to what was revealed about the Russian meddling. Adding to Stamos displeasure, in January most of his security team was reorganized into other groups with oversight from other managers. That was the main reason Stamos decided he would step down with August as the likely time frame, reported the Journal.
In a Twitter message Stamos said that: “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.” He didn’t make mention or comment on the portion of the report about him leaving the social media giant. (See more: Why Facebook Shares Could Fall 20%.)
Stamos has been heading up security as chief security officer since June of 2015. He was among the first to raise alarms about the Russian efforts to impact the U.S. election a month after it was over. According to The Wall Street Journal, at that time he sent an email to Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and senior executives saying Russia had run an information campaign on the Facebook platform. Last spring he urged Facebook to mention the role Russia had in a report that was published in April, but that decision was vetoed. It wasn’t until September of 2017 that Facebook disclosed publicly that Russia had manipulated the social media network platform ahead of, during, and after the election.