In an essay for Lawfare published Wednesday, Stamos reacted to Facebook's recent ban of more than 600 accounts allegedly controlled by Iran and Russia. Earlier on the same day, Facebook had removed these pages following a tip from cybersecurity firm FireEye (which is bankrolled by the Central Intelligence Agency). A FireEye statement Tuesday claimed with "moderate confidence" that these pages were related to Iran, in part because they promoted "Iranian political interests." FireEye did not say the accounts seemed to be designed to influence the US midterm elections.
Stamos accused Iran and Russia of "distorting the information environment worldwide," claiming that the most recent ban is the evidence of the continuous failure of the social media platform to maintain its own safety. He also said the US' "sclerotic response" has left the country "profoundly vulnerable to future attacks."
"In some ways, the United States has broadcast to the world that it doesn’t take these issues seriously and that any perpetrators of information warfare against the West will get, at most, a slap on the wrist," he wrote, calling this a dangerous delusion.
Social media platforms have made serious mistakes, the former security head explained, recalling that he and his colleagues were unprepared for the newest forms of cyberwarfare they encountered in 2016 and erred significantly in their security responses.
He claimed that since 2016, many US and international hacking groups have utilized the hacking techniques "as many kinds of manipulation might not be illegal if deployed by Americans, and friendly countries might not sit idly by as their adversaries work to choose an amenable US government."
Stamos proposed several preventative measures he claimed would be able to protect the US' 2020 presidential elections before it's "too late." He argued that there is a need for new legal guidelines for disinformation cases, and that they should be maintained by an "independent, defense-only cybersecurity agency." Stamos also called for "bad actors" believed to be responsible for the attacks to be punished using the US' "mighty cyber and financial weapons."
Stamos left Facebook in August 2018 after making a series of the accusations against the social media platform regarding the security it provides for users and the collection of user data ahead of the 2016 US presidential elections.