Two top Facebook execs are leaving the company

Zuckerberg said Cox first mentioned he might leave a few years ago, but made a decision to stay on after 2016 as evidence emerged that Russians had manipulated Facebook's services to provoke discord in the US and influence the election won by President Donald Trump.

Cox worked on some of Facebook's key products, including the social network's News Feed, and led the product and design teams.

In his blog post, Zuckerberg said that Cox had told him several years ago that he planned to move on, but that Cox chose to hold off on leaving until the company made more progress combating misinformation and Russian interference - controversies that erupted in the wake of the 2016 election.

Mark Zuckerberg has lost two of his closest lieutenants in a major setback for Facebook as it seeks to shift its strategy towards private messaging. A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows that Cox informed Facebook about his intended departure on March 11, just five days after Zuckerberg made his privacy plan public.

In addition to Cox, Zuckerberg also said on Thursday that Chris Daniels, vice president of WhatsApp, is stepping down. Chris Cox was responsible for Facebook's flagship apps - including WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook itself. "But after 2016, we both realized we had too much important work to do to improve our products for society, and he stayed to help us work through these issues and help us chart a course for our family of apps going forward", Zuckerberg wrote.

Cox and Daniels are among a string of executives who've left Facebook since 2017.

"This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through", he wrote.

Daniels has been at Facebook almost nine years, and previously led the company's Internet.org effort, a project aimed at bringing internet access to developing countries.

It also comes after an unprecedented global outage this week for Facebook and its other applications affecting millions of users, believed to be the worst ever for the network. The longtime Facebook executive Will Cathcart will head up WhatsApp. In October, Oculus co-founder and former CEO Brendan Iribe announced he was leaving the Facebook-owned virtual reality company.

  • Eleanor Harrison