Facebook’s security chief has quit — now who’s watching the watchmen?

Mark Zuckerberg Keynote Address in front of F8 logo

Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, has announced that he’s leaving the social networking giant in mid-August, bringing an end to a three-year tenure at the company. Facebook has said that it doesn’t plan to replace Stamos and will instead make a move to embed security professionals in its various divisions, effectively dissolving its dedicated security team.

For the past year, Facebook has been embroiled in a range of security and privacy scandals, including Cambridge Analytica’s data harvesting which some believe may have affected the 2016 presidential election. Coming off of such concerns and the implementation of the European GDPR, many eyes have been on Facebook to see how it responds to concerns about its security. That’s why Stamos’ departure and Facebook’s decision not to replace him is so jarring.

Stamos himself has been a principle figure at Facebook since his arrival in 2015. He famously left Yahoo that same year after discovering that it allowed emails to be scanned for the U.S. government, as Reuters reported at the time. He was also known for reaching out to wider Facebook users and commenting on the state of the site’s security and privacy provisions, as The Verge highlights.

His last day at Facebook will be August 17, at which point he will take on a full-time role at Stanford University as a teacher and researcher, launching a new course on offensive and defensive security techniques, as well as the ethical implementation of new technologies.

“I will also continue my work understanding and preventing the misuse of technology as a Cyber Initiative Fellow, a William J. Perry Fellow in International Security and a Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution,” he said in a Facebook post. He went on to state that he was confident in the team of professionals he leaves behind at Facebook and that he will collaborate with them in the future.

Facebook itself has wished Stamos well and that though it would not be replacing him, has said that it hoped to be judged by its actions on security, not whether it fulfilled a specific title. It also pledged to continue, “investing heavily in security to address new types of threats.”


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