Facebook’s policy and communications head is stepping down after a decade at the company

Schrage was a key player in coordinating Facebook's response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook's Chief Policy Officer Schrage Stepping Down
Facebook’s Chief Policy Officer Schrage Stepping Down

Facebook head of communications and public policy Elliot Schrage said Thursday that he is stepping down after a decade at the social media company.

“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,” he wrote in a post on Facebook.

Schrage wrote that he has been discussing the decision “for a while” with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. He will both lead the search for a new candidate and stay on during the transition. After he officially steps down, he will stay on as an advisor to help on particular projects, according to the post.

Schrage tagged Zuckerberg and Sandberg in the post. Both executives commented.

“Elliot – thank you for everything,” Sandberg wrote in response to Schrage’s resignation. “You’ve 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,” Sandberg wrote.

“You’ve made an extraordinary contribution to Facebook — dealing with some of our toughest challenges and helping enable some of our biggest opportunities,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Both mentioned they looked forward to Schrage’s “ongoing advice over the years ahead,” a reference to Schrage’s plans to stay on in an advisory role.

Facebook is still dealing with the fallout from reports of widespread data mishandling and abuse of sensitive user information, spurred by revelations that research firm Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed user information on as many as 87 million people.

Schrage was a key player in coordinating Facebook’s response to the scandal, for which the company was initially criticized for reacting too slowly.

Facebook did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Read the full text of Schrage’s resignation note:

The Next Chapter

Much of what makes Facebook such a great place to work is our culture, which has created traditions that bring our community closer together. I particularly like the “Faceversary,” where we celebrate the anniversary of our start date. Another is the opportunity to share a story at a company meeting after you hit your 10th Faceversary, which happened for me recently. I used the time to reflect on how much the company — and my life — has changed since my May 2008 arrival.

Unsurprisingly, those changes have been dramatic. While Facebook’s ‘story’ is well known, it’s often told in ways that reflect the interests of its teller. So here’s mine: our company’s history is filled with ‘real risks taken’ — sometimes controversially but always thoughtfully and with care. Yes, there really were ‘risks’ to better help people connect, share and build community.

From our earliest days (remember the launch of News Feed? Photo tagging?), our innovations have been greeted with an understandable mix of enthusiasm and concern. 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. MarkSheryland I have been discussing this for a while. I’ll lead the search to identify someone new to oversee our communications and policy teams. We expect to find someone with the same passion, integrity, determination and energy that our teams bring to Facebook every day. Mark and Sheryl have asked me to stay to manage the transition and then to stay on as an advisor to help on particular projects – and I’m happy to help.

Over the past decade, my personal story tracks that of the company. It’s hard to remember that joining Facebook in 2008 was considered risky and wildly speculative. Several wise mentors counseled against abandoning the “certainty” of Google’s success for the Facebook “fad.” Feel free to disagree, but I believe Facebook is still in the very early years of what it will achieve.

I’ve had the incredible opportunity to help build an extraordinary global team of dedicated professionals in policy and communications. Working with some of the most talented and creative engineers, product managers, visionaries and business leaders that good fortune (and inspiring leadership) has brought together has changed my life.

I’ve also been fortunate to be “present at the creation,” not of the internet or the web, but of an era where people’s real lives have extended into digital space, creating new opportunities and benefits as well as new risks and dangers. I’m proud of the work we’ve done. I’m proud of the work we are doing. And yes, I believe that the journey to establish rules for this new era really is only 1% complete.

Let me finish by saying how thankful I am for the opportunity Mark and Sheryl offered when I joined Facebook. I have had more than just a front row seat to one of the most important developments in human history, but the chance to be in the arena. That brings extraordinary opportunity and it demands responsibility and accountability. And when we take and exercise that responsibility well, we can achieve great things.

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