Facebook’s Comms Exec Steps Down After 10 Years At The Company

Eric Lieberman | Tech and Law Reporter

Facebook’s vice president of communications and public policy is leaving the company after 10 years.

The high-profile departure comes after months of public backlash stemming from several incidences leading many people to believe the tech giant cares far more about making money than protecting users’ privacy.

The exit of Elliot Schrage, who also worked for Google in a similar role for eight years, also follows the publication of an op-ed by an investor who said she was treated in a sexist way at the company’s latest shareholder meeting, specifically by Schrage. Still, Facebook says his leaving is not due to that purported altercation, as he requested to leave before the election, but stayed on at the request of CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.

“After more than a decade at Facebook, Elliot has decided it’s time to start a new chapter in his life; leading policy and communications for hyper growth technology companies is intense and leaves little room for much else,” a Facebook representative told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Elliot is one of the most creative and strategic people I have worked with,” Sandberg said in a statement. “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.”

His leaving is very noteworthy for multiple reasons. First, while Facebook will sometimes shuffle leadership around, reassigning people to different key posts, like it did in May, the top executives rarely leave. Also, the timing could conceivably show that pressure from those who felt he treated Natasha Lamb, the investor who confronted him weeks prior and wrote about it days prior — although Facebook’s comments indicate that the incident, which may have been overblown, is way too recent.

“He told me that the company was not engaging with me because I’m ‘not nice,'” Lamb wrote in the Financial Times, describing the comment made immediately following the meeting, and the overall treatment that day as sexist. She says Facebook, more so than any other company, doesn’t take her concerns seriously.

Facebook spokeswoman Vanessa Chan, who said she also attended the meeting, told TheDCNF Monday that Lamb’s characterization of what took place is off, to say the least. She insists that Facebook has reached out to her multiple times in recent years, “including two days before the recent shareholder meeting.”

“My comments are a truthful account of the shareholder meeting,” Lamb, who is managing partner at Arjuna Capital, told The Daily Caller News Foundation earlier in the week in an emailed statement. “Mr. Schrage has apologized to me by email noting ‘I shouldn’t have expressed myself – and should never express myself – in ways that can correctly be interpreted as insulting or offensive.'”

“While Mr. Schrage’s comments ‘can correctly be interpreted as insulting or offensive’ the larger point is that Facebook is not engaging in meaningful conversations with its investors and in this case Mr. Schrage said they were not doing so because I am ‘not nice,'” she continued.

Facebook says its “priority is to find a fantastic successor for a challenging role with a great team and manage a successful transition.” Schrage’s future plans are not yet clear beyond more informal, occasional work with the company. (RELATED: WhatsApp Co-Founders Could Be Giving Up $1.3 Billion Collectively For Ditching Facebook)

Recode was the first to report on Schrage’s departure. Facebook says Schrage will stay on to lead the search for his successor, and work as an advisor to Zuckerberg and Sandberg for certain projects.

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