Facebook loses two important executives amid new privacy push

Facebook's chief product officer and head of Whatsapp are leaving

Their departures come barely a week after Zuckerberg announced sweeping changes to Facebook, in order re-orient the social network around encryption and privacy.

Will Cathcart, vice president of product management, will now lead WhatsApp, and Head of Video, Games and Monetization Fidji Simo will be the new head of the Facebook app, Zuckerberg said.

And just more than a week later, two of its biggest executives are leaving the company. Less than a year ago, he was put in charge of all of Facebook's apps, including its flagship social media site as well as Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. Chief Product Officer Chris Cox and Chris Daniels, who heads messaging app WhatsApp, are departing.

"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 is among Facebook's highest-ranking executives and has been at the company for more than 13 years.

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While Cox gave no specific reason for his move, he noted that Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled a new direction away from being the "digital town square" to focus on smaller-scale, private interactions.

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

While Zuckerberg also said that Cox had spoken before about his desire to leave the company, that his departure is tied directly to Facebook's so-called privacy pivot, is significant. Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, WhatApp's Brian Acton and Jan Koum and Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey have also departed. Cox didn't offer any explanation for his departure.

"As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network".

"Chris and I have worked closely together to build our products for more than a decade and I will always appreciate his deep empathy for the people using our services and the uplifting spirit he brings to everything he does", Zuckerberg wrote in a message to his employees today.

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