Amid turmoil, Facebook chief product officer quits

Cox and Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg said Cox first mentioned he might leave a few years ago, but made a decision to stay on after 2016 as evidence emerged that Russians had manipulated Facebook's services to provoke discord in the US and influence the election won by President Donald Trump.

In his latest role as product chief, a position he held for 10 months, Cox led strategy for the company's family of apps.

Cox joined Facebook in 2005 and is largely responsible for the News Feed, one of Facebook's foundational features.

The news of Cox's departure comes a week after Zuckerberg announced a new "privacy-focused" mission for Facebook that will emphasise private messaging over public sharing.

Like many other longtime Facebook executives, Cox is unlikely to ever have to work again if he doesn't want to. 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.

SEE ALSO: Facebook's former chief security officer compares company to 'The Matrix.' Whoa.

Will Cathcart was announced as the new lead on WhatsApp, while Zuckerberg, apparently consolidating power as he prepares to merge the apps in some way or another, states he does "not plan on immediately appointing anyone to fill Chris's role in the near term". It isn't clear what future plans the executives have. In his own Facebook post Thursday, he said the company will forever be a part of his life.

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

"This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through", he wrote, signaling that he wasn't "excited" about it himself.

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.

Perhaps more than anyone else at Facebook - even more than COO Sheryl Sandberg - Cox was a sounding board for Zuckerberg on product ideas.

Facebook is the largest social network in the world, with 2.3 billion monthly active users.

The Facebook app will be overseen by Fidji Simo, who led the team for much of the past year while Cathcart was on paternity leave.

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