Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer has made the “difficult decision” to step down from his role, he announced Wednesday.
Schroepfer, who has worked for the social network for 13 years and oversees its work in artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, and the blockchain, said he will transition to a new part time role as Facebook’s first senior fellow at the company next year.
“This is a difficult decision because of how much I love Facebook and how excited I am about the future we are building together,” Schroepfer wrote on his Facebook profile.
“This change in role will allow me to dedicate more time to my family and my personal philanthropic efforts while staying deeply connected to the company working on key initiatives including recruiting and developing technical talent and continuing to foster our AI investments in critical technologies like PyTorch.”
Another longtime Facebook executive, Andrew Bosworth, who Schroepfer affectionately referred to as Boz, will take over as CTO in 2022, Schroepfer said.
“Boz created Facebook’s AR/VR organization, which was renamed Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) in 2020, where he drives all of Facebook’s efforts in augmented reality, virtual reality and consumer hardware across Oculus, Portal, and Facebook Reality Labs Research. These contributions are foundational components of our broader efforts to help build the metaverse. I’m confident and grateful for Boz’s leadership and the deep and talented technical bench of leaders we have at the helm,” Schroepfer said.
Schroepfer informed Facebook of his intention to resign as CTO on Monday, according to a company filing. The change in leadership marks the most significant departure from the company in years and follows a number of other veteran executives leaving in recent months.
Fidji Simo, the head of the company’s flagship social networking app, left in July to become CEO at Instacart, and hired her longtime colleague Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s former global ad chief, as her new company’s president, shortly after.
Schroepfer stepping down from the role also comes at a time when Facebook faces mounting criticism over its failure to properly address multiple issues affecting its users across the site, including content moderation, transparency, privacy and safety, and dealing with misleading or false information about a number of subjects such as COVID-19 vaccines, on their sites.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Adm. Vivek Murthy urged Facebook and other social media platforms to do a better job at dealing with the spread of so-called health misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, stating it was a “serious threat to public health.”
Last year, Facebook updated its COVID-19 misinformation policy and said it would remove content with what it deemed false claims or conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines that were flagged by global health organizations and local health authorities.
The network also added that it would block and restrict hashtags used to spread what it called misinformation on its Instagram platform, which it acquired in 2012.
More recently, the networking giant has come under fire from campaign groups for its secret internal research into the effect social media has on teenage users, which showed that teens blamed Instagram for increased levels of anxiety and depression.