By Elena Shao
Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos will leave his role at the company this month for a position as adjunct professor at Stanford’s Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). According to a Facebook post by Stamos, he plans to research cybersecurity, misuse of technology and the spread of misinformation, particularly with regard to the upcoming midterm elections, at Stanford.
The New York Times reported in March on Stamos’ impending exit from Facebook, suggesting that internal disagreement over the handling of Russian interference in the 2016 election was a contributing factor. Stamos has not publicly explained the reasoning for his departure, but his exit occurs during what many see as a turbulent time in Facebook’s history, following harsh criticism and controversy over the social media platform’s failure to prevent foreign influence and misuse of user data in general.
According to the Times, Stamos fought for more disclosure on the extent of Russian interference but was met with push-back from his colleagues at Facebook. Stamos tweeted a response to rumors that his role at Facebook had changed, writing that he has since been “spending more time exploring emerging security risks and working on election security.”
On Tuesday, a day before Stamos publicly confirmed his departure, Facebook announced that the company had removed 32 pages and fake accounts that were involved with a political influence campaign engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” In a post on Facebook Newsroom, Stamos spoke on Facebook’s efforts to combat misinformation.
“We recognize the importance of sharing our best assessment of attribution with the public, and despite the challenges we intend to continue our work to find and stop this behavior, and to publish our results responsibly,” he wrote.
Despite Stamos’ involvement in Facebook’s recent efforts to push back against misinformation and hackers, he intends to depart the company by Aug. 17 before starting his position at Stanford in September.
“While I will no longer have the pleasure of working side by side with my friends [at Facebook],” he wrote in his Facebook post, “I am encouraged that there are so many dedicated, thoughtful, and skilled people continuing to tackle these challenges.”
At Stanford, Stamos will launch a hands-on course on cybersecurity and cyberwarfare, and he will also contribute to a new cyber policy track in the Ford Dorsey’s Masters in International Program at FSI. Furthermore, Stamos plans to join a faculty group called Information Warfare, which will conduct research on the management of communication and information technology while also developing policy initiatives to educate the public and government officials.
Stamos will serve as a Cyber Initiative fellow, a William J. Perry Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) and a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution.