Thursday, October 21, 2021

Facebook’s chief technology officer stepped down

by Kurt Wagner | bloomberg

Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, a 13-year veteran who oversees the social network’s work in artificial intelligence, virtual reality and blockchain, will step down next year.

Another longtime Facebook executive, Andrew Bosworth, will take over as CTO, according to an internal message Wednesday from Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg. Schroepfer’s move marks the most significant departure from the company in years and follows the recent exit of several other top executives.

Known as “Shrep,” Schroepfer joined Facebook in 2008 and has been CTO since 2013, reports Zuckerberg. He sits above many of Facebook’s most ambitious organizations — including groups on which the social network relies for future growth — such as the engineering, infrastructure, augmented reality and VR, and blockchain and finance unit. His desk sits next to Zuckerberg and operating chief Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook headquarters.

Schroepfer’s most central role has been his oversight of Facebook’s AI organization, which he helped build. That group develops the technology Facebook uses to automatically find and remove content that violates its policies, such as nudity, hate speech, and graphic violence.

Menlo Park-based Facebook has come under pressure to improve the AI ​​system it uses to police user content, fight false information, and remove harassing or offensive posts. That pressure has mounted after a series of reports in the Wall Street Journal last week found evidence describing the company’s struggles over issues such as COVID-19 misinformation and human trafficking.

With billions of global users serving, Facebook executives tout AI technology as the best way to police posts on such a large scale. The technology isn’t perfect, and Facebook also uses thousands of human content moderators to monitor posts on its apps.

Schroepfer, 46, will continue to advise the company in a new part-time “senior partner” role, helping to recruit technical talent and develop the company’s artificial intelligence initiatives.

“This new position will create more room for me to devote time to my personal philanthropic efforts while remaining deeply connected to my family and company,” Schroepfer wrote in an internal post.

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Facebook shares fell about 0.5% in extended trading following the news. The stock was down 4% to a two-month low of $343.21 in regular trade after it warned that Apple Inc.’s new limits on mobile app data collection would curtail third-quarter results.

Before joining Facebook, Schroepfer worked for web browser maker Mozilla. A graduate of Stanford University, he has become one of the most visible Facebook executives, frequently speaking at events and Facebook’s own annual developer conference. He represented the social network at a hearing before the UK Parliament to discuss the company’s Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal in 2018.

She also maintains a high profile cut internally, appears frequently at company meetings, and is the executive sponsor of the internal “Women @ Facebook” employee group.

Schroepfer’s departure means a stepping stone for Bosworth, 39, who is one of the company’s longest-serving executives. He has held a number of roles since joining Facebook after meeting Zuckerberg while the CEO was still a college student, including leading the company’s advertising organization. For the past few years Bosworth has helped with Facebook Reality Labs, the company’s AR and VR efforts, including plans to develop a virtual metaverse.

Zuckerberg wrote to employees, “Boz will continue to lead Facebook Reality Labs and oversee our work in augmented reality, virtual reality and more, and some other groups will also join Facebook Reality Labs next year as part of this transition.” Will be.”

Facebook has lost several veteran executives in recent months. The company’s head of the leading social networking app, Fidji Simo, moved on in July to become CEO at Instacart Inc., and shortly afterwards Carolyn Everson, a Facebook vice president driving its global business relationships with advertisers. . Both women were on Facebook for more than 10 years.

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