Facebook’s public relations head Caryn Marooney exits company

Facebook PR dept leaves en masse

On Feb. 6, Facebook’s vice president of communications, Caryn Marooney, announced that she will be leaving the embattled social media giant after an eight-year tenure with the company.

A graduate of Cornell University, Marooney cofounded a San Francisco-based public relations company called OutCast Communications in 1997. Over the next 15 years, OutCast grew from a small concern into a PR powerhouse that represented major technology corporations such as Salesforce, Netflix, and Amazon.

In the midst of a battle with breast cancer, Marooney joined Facebook as its new director of technology communication in 2011 after consulting for the company for three years.

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In 2016, Marooney became the head of Facebook’s product and business communications following the departure of former vice president, Mike Buckley. As such, she was also made the head of PR for Facebook’s subsidiaries WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus VR. A company spokesperson noted that Marooney will stay on until her replacement is installed.

The Ongoing Exodus of Facebook’s PR Department

Although Marooney’s departure announcement only mentioned a desire to “get back to [her] roots” as a reason for leaving, it’s likely not her only motivation. Since 2016, Facebook has faced a firestorm of criticism due to its handling of its users’ privacy. And given some recent writing on the wall, she may have decided to leave before things got worse.

In May 2018, amid a larger corporate reorganization, Marooney had half of her responsibilities given to veteran PR flack Rachel Whetstone, a former Uber executive who liked her job so much she left the company for a position at Netflix in August 2018.

Similarly, Marooney’s former superior, Facebook’s vice president of global communications and public policy, Elliott Schrage, announced he would be jumping ship in July 2018 after a decade with the firm.

Marooney is not the only veteran Facebook PR executive to reveal that they will be leaving the corporation this week. Debbie Frost, Facebook’s vice president of international and policy communications and its long-tenured PR employee, will be retiring after eleven years with the Menlo Park-based social media giant.

Just When Things Were Looking Up

Funnily enough, Facebook looked to be rebounding before the unceremonious departure of another high-profile executive. The company’s Q4 2018 earnings report revealed that it beat revenue expectations and added 10 million Europeans to its daily active user base.

Moreover, Facebook recently announced a partnership with Intel to develop more efficient machine-learning algorithms. And a temporary shutdown of its app in the Apple ecosystem was reversed within a day.

On the other hand, the Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s antitrust regulations agency, just ruled that Facebook must discontinue its practice of combing and processing various streams of user data. As the company’s holistic data collection is the underpinning of its advertising model, this will be a major regulatory and public relations headache for the already beleaguered corporation.

As such, Marooney and the company’s other former employees may find that, like many users, they are happier with Facebook out of their lives.