John Pinette, the head of communications for Facebook’s parent company Meta has left the position after serving for more than two years.
He announced his departure in an email to his employees on Friday 7 January, adding “I know the team will continue to thrive as you do some of the most important – and most difficult – work in communications,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Pinette handled the company’s external communications since joining in 2019, after serving as vice president of marketing and communications for Vulcan, a private company owned by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. He also previously worked in communications with Microsoft and led communications for Google in Asia.
Vice president of international communications Chris Norton will now cover the role on an interim basis, a Meta spokesperson told Reuters in a statement.
“John Pinette has left Meta. We are thankful for his positive contributions during an intense and significant time in the company’s history, and we wish him well going forward,” the company added.
The spokesperson did not tell Reuters why Pinette was leaving but cited Meta’s policy of not commenting on personal matters.
Former Facebook director Katie Harbath is the latest former employee speaking out about the impacts social media can have on politics. A day after Pinette’s announcement, Harbath told the Wall Street Journal that social media will likely incubate future political violence unless governments and tech platforms intervene. Harbath also spoke on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” about her old company and its role in democracy.
Facebook, the company that owns platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, rebranded itself as Meta towards the end of 2021 after facing controversy from leaked internal research files being shared by the Wall Street Journal in a project it called the Facebook Files.
In the same week that the company suffered a major global outage, a company whistleblower revealed herself on TV show 60 Minutes and testified before a US Senate subcommittee.
The whistleblower was former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen, who is reported to have copied tens of thousands of internal Facebook documents before leaving the company in May last year.
Speaking at the EU Parliament in November, Haugen praised the proposed Digital Services Act – a proposal to regulate online platforms on issues such as illegal content and algorithms – as a key chance to ‘safeguard democracy’.
This act is due to be voted on this month after a similar proposal, the Digital Markets Act, received overwhelming support from EU lawmakers in December.
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