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Alex Stamos is leaving Facebook after a tough year for the company. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Facebook's chief security officer, Alex Stamos, is leaving the company to teach and research at Stanford University.

Why it matters: While his exit was expected, it comes as the company is still grappling with the spread of political disinformation on its platform. Stamos, well respected in and out of the company, has been focusing on election security and was involved in yesterday's revelation of a new coordinated political disinformation campaign.

What he's saying: "It is critical that we as an industry live up to our collective responsibility to consider the impact of what we build, and I look forward to continued collaboration and partnership with the security and safety teams at Facebook," he said on his Facebook profile. His last day at the company will be August 17.

The details:

  • Stamos has been a prominent voice at Facebook as it faced challenges over privacy and its effect on democracy. But his pushes for transparency around Russian election meddling reportedly brought him into conflict with others at the company and his day-to-day responsibilities were said to have been taken away.
  • "We need to listen to people (including internally) when they tell us a feature is creepy or point out a negative impact we are having in the world," he said, in a memo written after the New York Times reported in March that he would leave and published by BuzzFeed News last month. "We need to deprioritze short-term growth and revenue and to explain to Wall Street why that is ok. We need to be willing to pick sides when there are clear moral or humanitarian issues."

What they're saying: Facebook said it won't directly replace Stamos. "We are not naming a new CSO, since earlier this year we embedded our security engineers, analysts, investigators, and other specialists in our product and engineering teams to better address the emerging security threats we face," said a Facebook spokesperson. "We will continue to evaluate what kind of structure works best as we continue to invest heavily in security to protect people on our services."

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
9 hours ago - World

China's economy grows 6.5% in Q4 as country rebounds from coronavirus

A technician installs and checks service robots to be be used for food and medicine delivery in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, on Sunday. Photo: Hu Xuejun/VCG via Getty Images

China's economy grew at a 6.5% pace in the final quarter of 2020, the national statistics bureau announced Monday local time, topping off a year in which it grew in three of four quarters and by 2.3% in total.

Why it matters: No other major economy managed positive growth in 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in China, the country got the virus under control and became one of the main positive drivers of the global economy even as the rest of the world was largely under lockdown.