Facebook execs are reportedly struggling to figure out how to deal with disinformation backlash
Executives at Facebook are at odds over how to best respond to the spread of disinformation on the platform, several current and former Facebook employees told The New York Times.
The Times reports that Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief security officer, is leaving the company by August because of the tension. Stamos has been vocal about how important it is for the public to know how Russians used Facebook to spread fake news and propaganda before the 2016 presidential election, the current and former employees said, but he's been met with resistance from other leaders, primarily on the legal and policy teams.
Stamos came to Facebook from Yahoo in 2015, and in June 2016, he had engineers start to look for suspicious Russian activity on Facebook. By November, they found evidence of Russian operatives pushing leaks from the Democratic National Committee, the Times reports, but that same month, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said it was a "pretty crazy idea" to think Russia influenced the election. More evidence was found by the spring of 2017, leading to internal arguments between Stamos, who wanted to disclose as much information as possible, and others like Elliot Schrage, vice president of communications and policy, who did not want to share anything without more "ironclad" evidence, the Times reports.
In a statement, Stamos said these are "really challenging issues," and he's had "some disagreements" with his colleagues. In response to the Times' story, he tweeted that he's "still fully engaged with my work at Facebook," and is "spending more time exploring emerging security risks and working on election security." You can read more on the backlash to Facebook's secrecy and the internal arguments at The New York Times.