Former Facebook security chief: 'I failed to prepare my employer' on Russian disinformation

Former Facebook security chief: 'I failed to prepare my employer' on Russian disinformation
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Former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos on Thursday took part of the blame for not doing enough at Facebook to stop nascent political misinformation campaigns in 2016, following a scathing New York Times report about the company’s missteps over the past year.

“I failed to prepare my employer for the disinformation campaign and that is on me,” Stamos tweeted.

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While Stamos took some blame, in a tweet thread he also took at aim at other groups he felt were partially responsible for enabling Russian election interference and credited Facebook for going public with information about misinformation campaigning on its platform when other companies did not.

Stamos also said that the government could have done more to work with technology companies and took aim at the media’s role in spreading Russian propaganda.

“The government gave no assistance to the companies in 2016 and very little in 2017 (this seems to have improved a lot in 2018),” he said.

“The mass media was completely played by the GRU and wrote the stories they wanted after the DNC and [Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChelsea Clinton working on new children’s book about endangered animals GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander won't seek reelection GOP rep says there was a double standard in Flynn, Clinton probes MORE campaign chairman John] Podesta disclosures. You could argue that this was much more impactful than the [Internet Research Agency] disinfo, and there has been almost no self-reflection by NYT/WaPo/WSJ/TV on their role,” Stamos continued.

In the tweet thread, he also tried to downplay mentions of his interactions with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that were featured prominently in the New York Times’s story, saying that "there were a lot of heated discussions about what to publish and when."

“So yes, we all failed, and we need to own up to those failures to move forward,” he wrote. “Those failures were not caused by a CSO getting chewed out in a meeting or editing of a voluntary report that nobody else was willing to publish.”

The newspaper reported that Sandberg hammered Stamos, claiming that he “threw us under the bus” for investigating Russian election meddling on its platform without authorization from more senior officials at the company, leaving Facebook potentially legally exposed.

Stamos left the company earlier this year.