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Mike Schroepfer, the chief technology officer of Facebook, is stepping down

Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's chief technology officer for the past 13 years, will step down at the end of the year. Schroepfer is responsible for the social network's work in artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, and the blockchain.

A second long-time Facebook executive, Andrew Bosworth, will take over as the company's chief technology officer, according to an internal message from CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent out on Wednesday. As the most significant departure from the company in years, Schroepfer's departure follows the departures of a number of other senior executives in the last few months.

Schroepfer, also known as "Schrep," joined Facebook in 2008 and has served as the company's chief technology officer (CTO) since 2013, reporting directly to Zuckerberg. He sits atop many of Facebook's most ambitious organizations – including groups on which the social network is reliant for future growth – such as engineering, infrastructure, augmented reality and virtual reality, as well as the blockchain and finance unit. He also serves as a member of the Facebook board of directors.

At Facebook's headquarters, his desk is directly across from CEO Mark Zuckerberg's and operating chief Sheryl Sandberg's.

Schroepfer's most important role has been as the executive in charge of Facebook's artificial intelligence organization, which he helped to establish. Facebook uses the technology developed by this group to automatically identify and remove content that does not comply with its policies.

Located in Menlo Park, California, Ongoing pressure has mounted on Facebook to improve the artificial intelligence systems that it employs to police user content, combat false information, and remove harassing or offensive posts. That pressure has increased as a result of a series of reports published in the Wall Street Journal last week, which found evidence describing the company's struggles to deal with issues such as Covid-19 misinformation and human trafficking, among other things.

In order to serve billions of global users, Facebook executives have pointed to artificial intelligence (AI) technology as the most effective way to police posts on such a large scale. The technology is far from perfect, and Facebook also employs thousands of human content moderators to monitor posts on its various mobile applications and websites.

A new part-time role as a "senior fellow" will allow Schroepfer, 46, to continue to advise the company, this time in the areas of recruitment of technical talent and development of the company's artificial intelligence initiatives.

The company's internal blog stated that Schroepfer's new position would allow him to "dedicate more time to my family and my personal philanthropic efforts while remaining deeply connected to the organization."

Schroepfer previously worked for Mozilla, the company that makes the Firefox web browser. He graduated from Stanford University and has since established himself as one of Facebook's most visible executives, frequently speaking at conferences and at the company's own annual developer conference. The social media company was represented by him at a hearing before the UK Parliament in 2018, where lawmakers discussed the company's Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal.

Also within the company, he maintains a high level of visibility, frequently appearing at companywide meetings and serving as an executive sponsor for the internal “[email protected] Facebook” employee group.

With Schroepfer's departure, Bosworth, 39, who is also one of the company's longest-serving executives, will be promoted to a more senior position. He has held a variety of positions at Facebook since joining the company in 2010, when he met Zuckerberg while the CEO was still a college student. He most recently served as the company's head of advertising.

For the past few years, Bosworth has served as the head of Facebook Reality Labs, which oversees the company's augmented reality and virtual reality efforts, as well as its plans to develop a virtual metaverse.

According to Zuckerberg, "Boz will continue to lead Facebook Reality Labs and oversee our work in augmented reality, virtual reality, and other areas, and as part of this transition, a few other groups will join Facebook Reality Labs over the next year as well," he wrote in an internal memo to employees.

In recent months, Facebook has lost a number of senior executives who had worked there for many years. Earlier this year, Fidji Simo, the CEO of Facebook's flagship social networking app, left the company to become CEO of Instacart, where he was joined shortly after by Carolyn Everson, a former Facebook vice president who was in charge of the company's global business relationships with advertisers. Both women had worked at Facebook for more than ten years when they were fired.

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