Facebook Security Chief Changes Role to Focus on Election Fraud

Facebook’s chief of security late Monday said his role has shifted to focusing on emerging risks and election security at the global social network, which is under fire for letting its platform be used to spread bogus news and manipulate voters.

Alex Stamos revealed the change in his role at work after a New York Times report that he was leaving Facebook in the wake of internal clashes over how to deal with the platform being used to spread misinformation.

“Despite the rumors, I’m still fully engaged with my work at Facebook,” Stamos said in a message posted at his verified Twitter account.

“It’s true that my role did change. I’m currently spending more time exploring emerging security risks and working on election security.”

Stamos advocated investigating and revealing manipulation of news at the social network by Russian entities, to the chagrin of chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and other top executives, the Times reported, citing unnamed current and former employees.

Stamos reportedly decided in December he was done with Facebook, but remained at the social network as part of a plan to smoothly hand his job off to a successor. Neither Facebook nor Stamos directly commented on how long he intended to remain at the company, referring to his tweet in response to queries.

Word from Stamos came as the California-based social media giant faced an onslaught of criticism at home and abroad over revelations that a firm working for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign harvested and misused data on 50 million members.

Calls for investigations came on both sides of the Atlantic after Facebook responded to the explosive reports of misuse of its data by suspending the account of Cambridge Analytica, a British firm hired by Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Vera Jourova, the European commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, called the revelations “horrifying, if confirmed,” and vowed to address concerns in the United States this week.

In Britain, parliamentary committee chair Damian Collins said both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook had questions to answer.

According to a joint investigation by the Times and Britain’s Observer, Cambridge Analytica was able to create psychological profiles on 50 million Facebook users through a personality prediction app downloaded by 270,000 people, but also scooped up data from friends.

A Cambridge Analytica statement denied misusing Facebook data for the Trump campaign.

Facebook said it had hired a digital forensics firm to examine how the data leak occurred and to ensure that any data collected had been destroyed.

An undercover investigation of Cambridge Analytica by Britain’s Channel 4 found executives boasted they could entrap politicians in compromising situations with bribes and Ukrainian sex workers, and spread misinformation online.

The executives claimed to have worked in more 200 elections across the world, including Argentina, the Czech Republic, India, Kenya and Nigeria. The British firm said it “strongly denies” the claims from Channel 4 as well as reports on misuse of Facebook data.

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© AFP 2018

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