Facebook’s head of communication and policy, Elliot Schrage, is resigning after leading the company’s communications and policy teams for the past decade.
According to a Facebook post on Schrage’s public page, he says it’s time for him to start a new chapter:
As our community and global impact expanded, our challenge to strike a healthy balance has become more urgent and essential. I’ve enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to help meet that challenge. After more than a decade at Facebook, I’ve decided it’s time to start a new chapter in my life. Leading policy and communications for hyper growth technology companies is a joy — but it’s also intense and leaves little room for much else.
Per the post, Schrage says that he has been in discussions with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg about his leaving the company for some time now and that he will lead the search to find Facebook’s next head of communications and policy. He will also stay on to manage the transition once someone is hired, and then act as an advisor for special projects after he leaves his role.
According to Facebook, Schrage started discussions about leaving the company with Zuckerberg and Sandberg long before the 2016 US presidential election. Following the election, the CEO and COO asked him to remain in his role, and he agreed.
As head of communications, Schrage has played a vital role in Facebook’s response to the Cambridge Analytica user data scandal. He is the executive behind Facebook’s “Hard Questions” editorial on the Facebook blog — a series that aims to give more transparency on Facebook’s part around the more complex business issues it faces. “We hope this will be a place not only to explain some of our choices but also explore hard questions,” wrote Schrage at the launch of the series in June 2017.
He also has been managing Facebook’s research initiative to determine social media’s impact on elections that was announced in April, according to the Recode report that broke the story about Schrage’s departure.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg released the following statement on Schrage’s decision to resign:
Elliot is one of the most creative and strategic people I have worked with. He’s been instrumental in building our policy and communications teams as well as pushing many of our key initiatives — including the recent publication of our community standards, data about our effectiveness enforcing those standards and the creation of an independent election commission. Mark and I look forward to his ongoing advice over the years ahead.
Schrage is the third executive to leave the company since the Cambridge Analytica crisis. Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, announced in March that he would be resigning in August, reportedly over the company’s data controversy. During Facebook’s F8 developer conference in May, Mark Zuckerberg made a point to thank WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum for all of his work after Koum announced he was leaving the Facebook-owned property. It was rumored that Koum’s beliefs regarding user privacy clashed heavily with Facebook’s handling of user information.
In May, Facebook outlined a massive reorganization of the company’s product and engineering teams.
During an April 4 meeting with reporters, Zuckerberg said no one had been fired over Cambridge Analytica’s ability to harvest and exploit user data. While no one at Facebook lost their job — most likely because no one was doing anything wrong in the eyes of the company’s top executives — Facebook does appear to be losing some of its top talent as a result of the scandal.
For an organization that has experienced little turnover among its upper management — Schrage celebrated his 10-year anniversary in May, and Koum had been with the company since 2014, when Facebook bought WhatsApp — there has been a slow drift of executive departures ever since the Cambridge Analytica news hit, with at least one resignation announced per month.