Facebook says its chief product officer is leaving

It's the highest-ranking executive departure since the company became embroiled in crisis last year.

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Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox
Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. said on Thursday that Chief Product Officer Chris Cox is leaving, the highest-ranking executive to depart since the social-media giant became embroiled in crisis last year.

Cox is leaving following Facebook's decision to shift the direction of its future products to focus more on encryption. "This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through," he said in a statement.

Cox was a critical executive at Facebook, working there for more than a decade, helping design and run the news feed and then rising in the ranks to oversee all product at Facebook. He also gives the company's orientation to new hires every Monday morning.

"For a few years, Chris has been discussing with me his desire to do something else," Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a blog. "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. At this point, we have made real progress on many issues and we have a clear plan for our apps."

Chris Daniels, who took charge of WhatsApp after the founders' departure last year, is also leaving the company.

Facebook shares fell almost 2 percent in extended trading on Thursday.

—Bloomberg News

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