Two top officials leave Facebook as Zuck focuses on privacy
On March 7, Zuckerberg announced a new direction for Facebook — a renewed focus on privacy.
On March 14, two top executives announced their departures, likely due to disagreement with that direction.
One of the executives is Chris Cox, the Chief Product Officer and apparently #3 at the company.
The other is Chris Daniels, who runs WhatsApp.
What are the upcoming changes for Facebook again?
Zuckerberg introduced the new focus via wrote a long note on his Facebook page titled “A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking.”
In it, he covered a few main points:
- Private messages will shape the future of communication.
- End to end encryption will play an increasingly important role in social communication.
- Ephemeral content (Stories) draws more and more consumers attracted to the idea of “erasable” social content.
- Facebook wants to provide the option of “interoptability” between different platforms. This would allow consumers to easily shift between messages, SMS, and social networks.
Needless to say, the last point in particular presents a huge shift for Facebook.
Why those two officials?
Overall, both Cox and Daniels would be some of the most closely affected employees by the shift in direction. And the guess is that they simply don’t feel strongly enough aligned with the vision to pursue it.
Cox posted a message on his Facebook page on March 14. In part of the message, he wrote,
“Since I was twenty-three, I’ve poured myself into these walls. The pixels, the code, the products we’ve built together, the language, the culture, the values, the big ideas, and most of all, the people…
On Monday I gave my last orientation at Facebook to a hundred new faces. For over a decade, I’ve been sharing the same message that Mark and I have always believed: social media’s history is not yet written, and its effects are not neutral. It is tied up in the richness and complexity of social life. As its builders we must endeavor to understand its impact — all the good, and all the bad — and take up the daily work of bending it towards the positive, and towards the good. This is our greatest responsibility.
As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network. It’s a product vision attuned to the subject matter of today: a modern communications platform that balances expression, safety, security, and privacy. This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through.”
Again that key word, “interoptability.”
Enabling connection between Facebook’s Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp will require an enormous amount of work on the product side. This will be a companywide effort that could take years.
And as Cox himself said, they “will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through.”
Who else has left Facebook recently?
Last year, the co-founders of both Instagram and WhatsApp left Facebook as well, reportedly also over disagreements with Zuckerberg.
And other challenges for the company
It’s been a rough year or so for the company. We’ve seen:
- These departures
- An hours-long outage last week
- A criminal investigation launched last week into what Facebook knew about the data-sharing scandals
- Those data-sharing scandals in the first place (Cambridge Analytica)
TBD how it all continues. What do you think will happen with Facebook in 2019? Leave a comment below.
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