Meta’s head of PR leaves a company on fire

Photo: Chesnot (Getty Images)

It’s hard to blame anyone for running away from a burning building. The same goes for Silicon Valley, where the head of public relations at Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is stepping down.

As first reported by the Wall Street JournalGlobal Communications Vice President John Pinette announced the news to employees Friday after overseeing the company’s external communications since 2019. various PR fires, most notable among them the consequences of the “Facebook papers‘, a series of damning reports first published by the Journal last fall and containing thousands of leaked internal documents.

“Today will be my last day with Meta,” Pinette wrote in the post, which was reviewed by the Journal. “I know the team will continue to thrive if you do one of the most important – and most difficult – jobs in communication.”

Meta later confirmed his departure in a statement to various media.

“John Pinette has left Meta. We are grateful for his positive contributions during an intense and important time in the company’s history, and we wish him the best for the future,” the company said in an email to Gizmodo on Saturday.

A Meta spokesperson told Reuters Chris Norton, vice president of international communications, will assume the role in the meantime. So far, in a statement to Reuters, Meta has not publicly commented on why Pinette left, citing the company’s policy of not commenting on human resources.

Pinette joined the company in 2019 with more than two decades of corporate communications experience in the tech industry, including previous roles as director of Google’s pan-regional communications in Asia and chief of communications at Microsoft.

In September, Frances Haugen, a former employee of Facebook’s now-defunct civil integrity team, shared thousands of internal employee discussions, memos, investigations, presentations and other corporate documents to several news outlets in one of Silicon Valley’s biggest leaks to date.

Commonly referred to as the Facebook papers, the leaked documents showed that Instagram researchers had extensively studied the link between children’s mental health and its products and were well aware of how harmful the app could be, particularly to teenage girls. In response, the US Senate called on Facebook to to give evidence during a hearing on Instagram’s harmful effects on its younger users.

Under significant political pressure, the company backpedaled on its previously announced plans to build a version of Instagram aimed specifically at children, although Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri later clarified to lawmakers that it didn’t quite put the idea away. Other revelations from the Facebook newspapers, including Facebook’s insufficient policy to control the spread of wrong information about the climate and internal disagreements about the treatment of political ads, have also attracted the attention of the public.

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