Top Facebook, WhatsApp executives quit over data privacy disputes

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook announced on Thursday that it is having a major reshuffle of its executive staff. Chris Daniels, the head of WhatsApp, is also leaving.

Cox, who dropped out of a Stanford University graduate degree program to work with Zuckerberg when the company had just 15 engineers, was widely seen as one of the most popular and capable executives at the social network - and a potential replacement CEO, were Zuckerberg to leave.

The company is facing multiple federal investigations over data privacy, stagnating user growth in its most lucrative markets, and a record-low reputation with the public. WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram Remain Down For Some Users Across Globe, Outage Triggers Fury on Social Media. It's also been at the center of the company's controversies, including the spread of false information, because it gives everyone who uses it a different picture of reality.

However, the latest exits are potentially more troubling, as Mr Cox and Mr Daniels were members of Mr Zuckerberg's tight-knit group of allies.

Two of Facebook's most important executives are leaving the company amid its decision to refocus its platform around encryption and privacy.

Zuckerberg said he has no plans to replace Cox, though Daniels will be replaced by Will Cathcart, another longtime Facebook veteran.

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"Embarking on this new vision represents the start of a new chapter for us", Zuckerberg said in describing the changes amid a new direction in company strategy outlined by Zuckerberg last week.

Zuckerberg said Cox's departure creates opportunities for leaders who are energized about the path ahead.

Zuckerberg said on Thursday that Olivan will now lead the effort to integrate Facebook apps, a key move as the company encrypts conversations on more of its messaging services and makes them compatible. Unfortunately, the CEO neglected to expound further on the reason for their sudden departure.

The leaving of Cox and Daniels follows the departure in the past year of the founders of WhatsApp, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, as well as the founders of Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

Daniels took the helm of WhatsApp after founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton left the messaging app a year ago, reportedly over disagreements about the increased integration of WhatsApp's operations with Facebook's. As of last spring the heads of Instagram and WhatsApp report in to him.

Zuckerberg told Wired magazine on 6 March that "there will be a bunch of work inside the company to make sure that we have the right folks in the right roles" to bring Facebook's apps together and introduce more privacy features.

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