Why Meta’s COO Is Stepping Down

By Joseph Farago | Published

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Meta, also known as the conglomerate that oversees Facebook, introduces a power shift. The current COO, Sheryl Sandberg, has decided to step down from the company after 14 years of service. Sandberg issued her self-instated removal by a statement she provided this Wednesday. She will continue to be a part of Meta’s board of directors but plans to leave the committee by fall.

Sandberg isn’t leaving due to innocuous or standard reasons. Inevitable failures at Meta have galvanized the COO to step down from the company altogether. Various scandals surrounding privacy exposures and misinformation have driven Sandberg to leave Meta and its board of directors. It’s no secret that Facebook has had many controversies regarding selling information to foreign parties without users’ knowledge. This has pushed many away from Meta and Facebook, including its employees and executives.

Sandberg was very aware of certain scandals occurring at the company since she was the COO during the election controversy. Facebook was at the center of selling user information to people who were campaigning for specific presidential candidates. This appalled Facebook users, which created a firestorm of media attention for the social media platform. Sandberg was also criticized for her and other executives at Meta’s slow response to Russian interference during the US electoral race between Trump and Clinton.

Sandberg revealed in her departure statement how difficult it was to work for a social media company in this day and age. “The debate around social media has changed beyond recognition,” she stated, showcasing many people’s opinions about Facebook and Meta’s surveillance and ownership of users’ information. Now, huge debates have led to the US Supreme Court about surveillance and privacy issues regarding social media platforms.

Sandberg concluded her statement by saying that protecting the privacy and keeping people safe should be a priority at Meta. This may be one of the reasons she’s stepping down from the company since Meta and Facebook have been at the center of many privacy leaks. Sandberg added that working in social media “should be hard” because users trust the platform with their personal identity and information. Her belief that media platforms have an intrinsic duty to protect their users apparently doesn’t align with Meta anymore, ultimately leading to her leaving the company.

Privacy breaches aren’t the only problem occurring at Meta. Principal analyst at Business Insider Debra Aho Williamson noticed that Meta deals with business issues and general user traffic. In February 2022, Facebook reported that daily users declined for the first time since its inception. This user reduction led to a startling drop in Meta’s stock, dipping by 26% this past week. Though Facebook was one of the first widespread social media phenomena, other platforms like Instagram and Twitter have gained astronomically more traffic. Facebook’s dip in relevancy and accumulation of controversies has hurt the platform’s image, catalyzing Meta’s devaluation.

Meta has now turned to the metaverse and cryptocurrency apps to switch its market value decline. The company has invested funds in a virtual world called Horizon Worlds to regain users’ trust and general interest. Mark Zuckerberg stated that he expects to spend more than $10 billion to make Horizon Worlds a reality.