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Friday, 08 March 2019 08:44

Stamos pokes fun at Facebook chief's privacy vision. Or did he?

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Stamos pokes fun at Facebook chief's privacy vision. Or did he? Image by TheDigitalArtist on Pixabay

Wittingly or unwittingly, Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer of Facebook, appears to have poked fun at his former employer, Mark Zuckerberg, after the Facebook chief announced that his vision for the social media site was for it to become a privacy-focused platform.

Coming as it does after a series of bigger and bigger scandals over data leaks from Facebook, Zuckerberg's statement has provoked a great deal of cynicism. But Stamos's criticism (?) was the best: he compared Zuckerberg's great revelation to the announcement made by Microsoft in 2002 that it was launching a Trustworthy Computing Initiative.

Stamos responded to a tweet posted by Steven Sinofsky, who last worked for Microsoft on the Windows 8 project and then was unceremoniously shown the door.

Sinofsky, who appears to be still drinking the Microsoft Kool-Aid, wrote: "Facebook is having a 'trustworthy computing' moment and that is fantastic. When we see a large and hyper growth business make big step-function strategy changes it’s super cool (eg mobile). Always a good reminder that founder/CEOs proactively make necessary bold changes."

Stamos then added his own masala: "I have often compared the current trust moment to the security moment in the early 2000s, where Microsoft led the industry by turning their entire product development model upside down.

"For this to work for FB, the changes will have to be as intense as Steven [Sinofsky] accomplished."

When Microsoft announced its Trustworthy Computing Initiative in 2002, it trademarked the term, published a paper about and generally led many trusting souls to believe that the company would be taking steps to improve the abysmal security of its products.

The years 2000 and 2001 were horror years for Microsoft, with one worm after another affecting one product or the other and users taking a beating as the malware wreaked havoc. (Who can forget Code Red?)

But nothing changed. Even today, for all the bizspeak that emanates from Redmond — and all the time that Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella spends avoiding mentioning Windows and its accompanying orchestra: malware, ransomware, adware, scumware, pornware etc, — security is a second-level issue. Marketing comes first.

One simple point to illustrate this: When you log in to a fresh installation of Windows 10, you are still creating an administrator account, not a user account. That simple bit of digital hygiene has still not been fixed. Microsoft and security walks different streets.

But back to Stamos. Did he send this tweet thread with tongue firmly planted in cheek? I think he did, judging by his final tweet which is given below:

Windows Vista was a major disaster for Microsoft and anyone who cites features from that avatar of Windows as being a model for others to follow must surely be joking.

But then given some of Stamos' past statements, it is difficult to say for sure.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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