Stamos, Facebook's outspoken chief security officer, is
leaving the company,according
to a reportMonday by The New York
apparent reasons for the departure are Facebook's
disclosures of a company investigation into Russian trolls
abusing its services during the 2016 US election and the
spread of misinformation on the site. Stamos reportedly
clashed with top executives, including COO Sheryl
Sandberg, over how the company should handle the
to The Times report, Stamos initially told the company he
wanted to leave in December, after his day-to-day duties
were reassigned. He was convinced to stay until August to
help see through the transition of his responsibilities.
the rumors, I'm still fully engaged with my work at
Facebook," he tweeted. "It's true that my role did change.
I'm currently spending more time exploring emerging
security risks and working on election security."
Facebook spokeswoman echoed Stamos' sentiment in a
statement. "Alex Stamos continues to be the Chief Security
Officer (CSO) at Facebook," the statement said. "He has
held this position for nearly three years and leads our
security efforts especially around emerging security
risks. He is a valued member of the team and we are
grateful for all he does each and every day."
spokeswoman didn't directly address whether Stamos was
planning to leave the company.
news comes as Facebook deals with a controversy over
Cambridge Analytica and its reported misuse of data from
50 million Facebook accounts.
made waves on Twitter this weekend when he criticized The
New York Times and the Guardian for their portrayals of
the way data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica used
Facebook user data. The tweets said the situation, in
which the firm accessed information from millions of
Facebook accounts, wasn't a data breach or a leak. Then,he
deleted those tweets.
for bursts of candidness on Twitter, Stamos has tweeted
out his thoughts on a range of issues during his tenure at
Facebook. In October, he let fly a string of tweets about
the news media's coverage of artificial intelligence
technology, which he said painted Silicon Valley unfairly
of substance at the big companies thinks of algorithms as
wrote. "Nobody is not aware of the risks."
now, most of what you've heard about Facebook and the 2016
election has been focused on meddling by Russian
operatives. Those efforts are being investigated by the
FBI and the US Senate.
consultancy Cambridge Analytica represents a different
problem. The UK-based company reportedly acquired dataabout
millions of Facebook usersin
a way that violated the social network's policies. It then
tapped that information to build psychographic profiles of
users and their friends, which were utilized for targeted
political ads in the UK's Brexit referendum campaign, as
well as by Trump's team during the 2016 US election.
says it told Cambridge Analytica to delete the data, but
also that reports suggest the info wasn't destroyed.
Cambridge Analytica says it complies with the social
network's rules, only receives data "obtained legally and
fairly," and did wipe out the data Facebook is worried
what you need to know.
lose control of your information?
is Cambridge Analytica?
Analyticais a UK-based data
analytics firm, whose parent company is Strategic
Communication Laboratories. Cambridge Analytica
helps political campaigns reach potential voters online.
The firm combines data from multiple sources, including
online information and polling, to build "profiles"
of voters. The company then uses computer programs to
predict voter behavior, which then could be influenced
through specialized advertisements aimed at the voters.
said in a statement late Friday that Cambridge Analytica
received user data from Aleksandr Kogan, alecturer
at the University of Cambridge. Kogan reportedly
created an app called "thisisyourdigitallife" that
ostensibly offered personality predictions to users while
calling itself a research tool for psychologists.
app asked users to log in using their Facebook account. As
part of the login process, it asked for access to users'
Facebook profiles, locations, what they liked on the
service, and importantly, their friends' data as well.
problem, Facebook says, is that Kogan then sent this user
data to Cambridge Analytica without user permission,
something that's against the social network's rules.
Kogan gained access to this information in a legitimate
way and through the proper channels that governed all
developers on Facebook at that time, he did not
subsequently abide by our rules," Paul Grewal, a vice
president and general counsel at Facebook,said
in a statement.
didn't respond to requests for comment. The New York Times
said he cited nondisclosure agreements and declined to
provide details about what happened, saying his
personality prediction program was "a very standard
vanilla Facebook app."
White House didn't respond to a request for comment.
Analytica also worked with other 2016 presidential
election campaigns, according to its website and various
media reports. Those included the campaigns of Sen. Ted
Cruz and presidential candidate Ben Carson, who went on to
join Trump's cabinet assecretary
of housing and urban development.
did Facebook ban Cambridge Analytica from its
said Cambridge Analytica "certified" three years ago it
had deleted the information, as did Kogan. But since then,
Facebook said, it's received reports that not all the user
data was deleted.The
New York Times reported Saturday that at least
some of it remains.
a statement Saturdayit deleted
all the data and is in contact with Facebook about the
New York Times characterizes this as a data "breach" and
says it's "one of the largest data leaks in the social
network's history." That's in part because the roughly
270,000 users who gave Kogan access to their information
allowed him to collect data on their friends as well. In
total, more than 50 million Facebook users are said to
have been affected.
misuse of this data is what The New York Times zeroed in
however, says that while Kogan mishandled its data,all
the information Kogan got was accessed legally and
within its rules. The problem is that Kogan
was supposed to hold onto the information himself, not
hand it over to Cambridge Analytica or anyone else. So
Facebook disputes that the incident was a data breach,
because the information was accessed through normal means
-- using an app that asked people for access to their
information, which they then agreed to.
social network argued its point even further in an update
to its Friday statement, saying that calling this episode
a "breach" is "false."
knowingly provided their information, no systems were
infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of
information were stolen or hacked," the company said.
you log in to an app using your Facebook account, the
developer typically asks for access to information the
social network has. Sometimes it's just your name and
email address. Other times, it's your location and your
friends' data too.
this is pretty much what any app developer that works with
Facebook is allowed to do. That is, until 2015, when
Facebook stopped app developers from having access to
friends' data. The rest, though, is still fair game.
says its rules specify that developers can't share the
information they receive with other firms. That's where
the problem with Kogan and Cambridge Analytica comes up.
everything else? That's fine by Facebook. The company has
review processit puts developers
through, but once they're cleared, things are A-OK.
this scandal has renewed calls for more regulation.
latest fiasco could reignite the debate within the Beltway
and EU around a tighter regulatory environment Facebook
and its social platform brethren could face going
Ives, an analyst at GBH Insights, wrote in a note to
investors Sunday. "This represents another critical period
for Facebook to hand hold and assure its users and
regulators around tighter content standards and platform
security in light of this latest PR nightmare."
Washington, lawmakers and other officials werequick
to demandthat Facebook
Congress, something he hasn't personally done in recent
hearings over the intersection of social media, elections,
trolls and hacking.
Google, and Twitter have amassed unprecedented amounts of
personal data and use this data when selling advertising,
including political advertisements," Sens. Amy Klobuchar,
a Minnesota Democrat, and John Kennedy, a Louisiana
Republican, said in a statement Monday. "The lack of
oversight on how data is stored and how political
advertisements are sold raises concerns about the
integrity of American elections as well as privacy
have raised the question of whether Facebook's actions may
have violated a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade
Commission, according toThe
Washington Post, which interviewed two former
federal officials. The consent decree required users to be
notified and to agree to Facebook sharing their data,
according to the Post. Facebook told the paper that it
rejected "any suggestion of violation of the consent
Europe, where regulators have traditionally taken a tough
stance on social media and privacy, the president of the
Tajani, on Monday tweetedthat EU
lawmakers "will investigate fully, calling digital
platforms to account." In the UK, Damian Collins, the
chair of Parliament's committee overseeing digital
matters, said thatZuckerberg
needs to stand upand
answer questions directly.
has to take responsibility for this," Collins said. "It's
time for Mark Zuckerberg to stop hiding behind his
can I do?
isn't much. You may've been swept up in this without even
knowing it. You don't have to have downloaded Kogan's app
to have had your information accessed, since the
statements and articles say the app slurped up information
about users' friends.
Analytica also doesn't appear to offer a way for you to
request your information be removed from its systems. The
company didn't respond to a request for comment.