Facebook is losing two of its top executives CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced, including product head Chris Cox and WhatsApp lead Chris Daniels. Both executives made the decision to leave on their own in light of the social media giant’s recent decision to rebuilt each of its messaging apps in an almost unifying ‘privacy-focused’ direction.
Mr. Cox had been responsible for overseeing the management of application strategy at the company alongside coworker Javier Olivan. Mr. Olivan will retain his role and provide oversight of strategies pertaining to app integration as well as safety and integrity, analytics, growth, and ads. A replacement for Chris Cox has not been decided and there are no plans to fill the position, with the leadership of Facebook’s many brands now reporting directly to COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Chris Daniels will be replaced by Will Cathcart as the head of work on WhatsApp. As part of the employee shuffle, Zuckerberg also announced that the Facebook app will now be overseen by Fidji Simo.
But why the shuffle?
The exact reasons for the executives' decision to leave have not been outlined completely but Mr. Zuckerberg did summarize to explain that Mr. Cox has been expressing a desire to move on for at least a few years. The move is said to have been made possible because a plan is now reportedly firmly in place to build out each of Facebook's messaging platforms with a deeper focus on privacy. The same holds true for Mr. Daniels's role as the head of development on the WhatsApp platform.
The timing of the executives' decision to leave comes as Facebook moves to bring each of its messaging platforms in line with a renewed focus on encryption and protections for users. But it also comes in the wake of ongoing investigations into its privacy practices on a wider scale, less than a year after they were appointed to their oversight roles.
Missteps and a 'new' direction
Facebook has faced scrutiny for well over a year at this point due to lapses in security and an apparent focus on using user data for its own gains rather than protecting it in any meaningful way. Legislators and other officiating bodies began looking more closely at the company following its Cambridge Analytica scandal and reports have continued to be released on a fairly regular basis in the aftermath regarding its practices and missteps.
That's been highlighted by governmental proceedings involving the company as well as peppered with aggressive action from the company to undermine or influence regulation regarding privacy and repeated promises to keep users and their data safe.
The new direction the company has outlined will include a years-long effort to bring the same type of end-to-end encryption and protection to each of its main messaging platforms. The goals also center around reducing the permanence of messages, ensuring deeper control over who can contact a user, and balancing tradeoffs between privacy and safety.
Of course, the company has also said that will include a bid to make its platforms more interoperable, likely in a cross-platform push to ensure they are ready to be fully integrated at some time in the future.