Cyber Security

Comment: Facebook's departing security chief calls for privacy reforms

26th July 2018
Alex Lynn

Facebook's departing head of security, Alex Stamos, wrote a memo amidst the Cambridge Analytica scandal, calling for Facebook to collect less user data, and re-evaluate the site’s approach to privacy. This memo was published yesterday by BuzzFeed News, here.

Christopher Littlejohns, EMEA manager at Synopsys, has commented on the events: "We are living in a world where social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and many others provide the means to connect to large and sometimes eager audiences at low to zero cost. The thirst for ever greater interaction to friends, celebrities and other like minded people’s activities and thoughts seems to know no bounds. Individuals throughout the world are becoming rich based on little more than their ability to communicate to their eager audience.

“The heads of social platforms are well aware of this trend and are both driving and responding to it to enhance their offerings, lead to growth, and further opportunities to monetise. The foundation for all of this is connecting people to people, people to businesses, and businesses to people. Facebook's mission statement is “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”. This is at the heart of both the massive opportunity social media platforms have, but also at the heart of the problem.

“Of course, government-sponsored organisations see such platforms as a threat, but also as an opportunity. If small numbers of people can impact and influence people’s views, then why can’t they? They can indeed, and have been shown to be doing so by numerous investigations by government agencies around the world. It would be foolish to think that such activities will not have a potential impact in our societies with far reaching consequences.

“In this context, the likes of Facebook and others have a huge responsibility: They are a platform for both the good and the bad. This is what I believe Alex Stamos was alluding to. I believe it was Spiderman (as well as a number of historical political figures) that said 'with great power comes great responsibility'. Alex seems to recognise that there has been a fundamental shift in the power to influence in the social platform age, and it is clearly not good if leaders of these organisation do not recognise that. His call to action to such organisations is to put in place a moral framework and policies that guide their thinking of how to run their companies to ensure that they are not complicit in making things worse."

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