Facebook’s Top PR Exec Is Leaving the Toughest Job in Tech


Following greater than two years of fixed turbulence for Facebook, the corporate’s vice chairman of communications, Caryn Marooney, is leaving the corporate, Facebook has confirmed. Marooney, who beforehand cofounded the expertise communications agency The Outcast Agency, joined Facebook in 2011 as director of expertise communications, after representing the corporate at Outcast. Most not too long ago, she has been chargeable for all world communications. Marooney’s ultimate day isn’t but set, however spokesperson Vanessa Chan mentioned she could be staying on to convey her alternative on board.

“She’s been at Facebook for eight years on the payroll,” and labored with the corporate even earlier than that at Outcast, Chan mentioned. “It’s been a really, really long time. I think she just wants to take a step back.” In 2016, Marooney turned head of world communications, a place, she informed WIRED, that she accepted whereas battling most cancers. Facebook is now trying internally and externally for her alternative.

Marooney’s departure is simply the newest in a string of shakeups at Facebook’s communications division over the previous yr. In early 2018, your entire firm underwent a significant government reorganization. As a part of the modifications, Marooney started splitting her duties with Rachel Whetsone, who had been employed away from Uber by Facebook the yr earlier than. In June, vice chairman of communications and public coverage, Elliot Schrage, introduced that he was stepping down from Facebook after a decade there, though he has not departed. Sir Nick Clegg, former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom, was later employed to guide Facebook’s world coverage and communications. Whetstone introduced she was leaving for a high job at Netflix in August. At that time, Marooney reassumed accountability for all world communications, and was reporting to Clegg when she introduced her departure Wednesday.

“I’ve decided it’s time to get back to my roots: going deep in tech and product,” Marooney wrote in a Facebook submit Wednesday. “With Nick Clegg settled in at Facebook, this felt like the right time to start the transition.”

Chan additionally confirmed that Debbie Frost, Facebook’s vice chairman of worldwide coverage and communications and the longest tenured worker on Facebook’s communications crew, has additionally introduced her exit.1 According to Chan, Frost is retiring. Meanwhile, the corporate not too long ago employed Sarah O’Brien, previously of Tesla, to be the corporate’s vice chairman of government communications.

The staffing shuffle underscores the sheer problem of defending Facebook’s repute at a time when it’s perpetually underneath siege. Since 2016, the corporate has confronted a barrage of questions concerning the rise of pretend information, the unfold of overseas propaganda, a large safety breach, violations of consumer privateness, violent battle fueled by social media myths abroad, and an ever-expanding record of scandals. As one former Facebook worker put it to WIRED, Facebook’s public relations division has turn out to be a “crisis communications” store.

“I think that some folks left just because they got tired of the day-in-day-out criticism, not just media but also from people in Washington,” the previous worker mentioned of the current turnover at Facebook.

Members of Facebook’s PR crew have bore the brunt of a few of Facebook’s most up-to-date scandals. It was Schrage, as an illustration, who took the general public blame for hiring Definers Public Relations, which performed opposition analysis on Facebook’s greatest critics, together with billionaire Democratic donor George Soros. It was solely after Schrage printed a weblog submit on the topic that Facebook’s chief working officer Sheryl Sandberg acknowledged she, too, had been conscious of Definers’ work.

During this robust time, Facebook additionally went on a hiring spree, rising from 17,048 staff by the top of 2016 to 35,587 staff on the finish of 2018. Much of that enhance went towards beefing up Facebook’s security and safety groups, and but, based on the previous worker, the dramatic enhance led to “growing pains” throughout the corporate. “There would be internal tension over who gets to do what. That was tough to deal with,” the worker says.

“There were definitely executive camps, and this isn’t just comms, this is throughout the entire company,” one other supply aware of Facebook’s communications crew says. But the supply famous that Marooney “did a good job keeping herself out of it.”

It’s nonetheless unclear which courageous soul will tackle the job subsequent. Whoever it’s could have their work minimize out for them, with a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Facebook’s privateness practices hanging over the corporate’s head, plans for federal privateness laws taking form on Capitol Hill, and a battery of ongoing investigations taking place abroad. That’s along with the close to weekly information tales about how Facebook is prying into individuals’s personal messages for market analysis or its historical past of bilking cash from unsuspecting kids enjoying video games on the platform. The job Marooney is abandoning simply could be the hardest job in tech.

1CORRECTION on 2/6/2019, 1:24 pm ET: This story has been up to date to right Debbie Frost’s title at Facebook. It has additionally been up to date to incorporate a quote from Caryn Marooney’s Facebook submit about her departure from the corporate.


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