Mark Zuckerberg loses two key Facebook executives

Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox

Cox, who dropped out of a Stanford University graduate degree program to work with Zuckerberg when the company had just 15 engineers, was widely seen as one of the most popular and capable executives at the social network - and a potential replacement CEO, were Zuckerberg to leave.

Chris Daniels, who leads encrypted messaging app WhatsApp, will also depart Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote in a post announcing the news on Thursday.

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. Fidji Simo, vice president of video, games, and monetization, will become the new head of the Facebook app.

Forrester analyst Jessica Liu said it sounded like Cox was "subtly disagreeing" with Zuckerberg's privacy memo, based on Cox's farewell post.

Cox worked on some of Facebook's key products, including the social network's News Feed, and led the product and design teams.

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Cox's departure removes a layer of management, bringing Zuckerberg closer to a family of apps that he wants to make compatible.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post that does not plan on immediately appointing anyone to replace Cox.

Chris Cox was put in charge of some of Facebook's most important features, including Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp - which together have over 2.7 billion users worldwide. Longtime Facebook executive Will Cathcart will take over Daniels' job running WhatsApp. Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, WhatApp's Brian Acton and Jan Koum and Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey have also departed.

The departures of Cox and Daniels come a day after a technical issue that limited use of Facebook and Instagram for most of Wednesday. It's a product vision attuned to the subject matter of today: a modern communications platform that balances expression, safety, security, and privacy. "This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through", he said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

However, the latest exits are potentially more troubling, as Mr Cox and Mr Daniels were members of Mr Zuckerberg's tight-knit group of allies.

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