- Facebook’s outgoing communications boss Elliot Schrage has endured a turbulent end to his tenure.
- He has shouldered responsibility for hiring a PR firm that slung mud at Facebook’s rivals and critics -and he also got into a fight with an investor.
- Both Schrage and Facebook have said recently that he will stay on as an adviser on special projects.
- Business Insider asked Facebook four times if it will retain Schrage’s services after the Definers affair, but the company has refused to answer the question.
Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s outgoing vice president of communications and public policy, has endured a turbulent end to his decade-long tenure at the social network.
Part of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg’s inner circle, his team has been at the frontline of a chain of scandals, shaping the Facebook’s response to crises including the Cambridge Analytica data breach and use of the platform for election meddling.
But as well as dealing with the company’s dirty laundry, Schrage has himself become personally embroiled in two issues in recent months that have generated headlines for the wrong reasons.
Just this week, Schrage wrote an extraordinary memo to staff, shouldering responsibility for hiring Definers Public Affairs, the PR firm that slung mud at Facebook’s rivals, going so far as to link critics to liberal billionaire George Soros – a move that has struck some as playing into an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
It was a stunning mea culpa, in which Schrage said there had been a systematic failure within his own team. “I built a management system that relies on the teams to escalate issues if they are uncomfortable about any project, the value it will provide or the risks that it creates,” he said. “That system failed here and I’m sorry I let you all down.”
Just five months earlier, Schrage was saying sorry for a different reason. He apologised to an investor who accused him of sexism after a confrontation at Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting.
Natasha Lamb, a managing partner at Arjuna Capital, said Schrage dismissed her and said she was “not nice” after she raised concerns about Facebook’s gender pay gap. He later sent Lamb an email apologising for his “poor choice of words.”
Will Facebook cut ties with the PR man who became the story?
A day before that email leaked to Business Insider, Schrage announced that he was leaving Facebook. He said he would stick around long enough to recruit his successor.
That job has now gone to Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister of the UK, who has begun work at Facebook’s Brock Street offices in London before he moves to Silicon Valley early next year.
But both Schrage and Facebook have said that Schrage will remain tied to the company as an adviser. “Mark and Sheryl have asked me to stay to manage the transition and then to stay on as an advisor to help on particular projects – and I’m happy to help,”as he said in a Facebook post.
Business Insider has asked Facebook four times this week if it will retain Schrage’s services as an adviser even after he came forward to take responsibility for the Definers affair. The company has not answered our question. Business Insider has also contacted Schrage for comment.
For now, Schrage’s LinkedIn says he still works at Facebook and in his memo this week, he was billed as Facebook’s “outgoing head of communications.” It remains to be seen if Facebook will totally sever ties with the PR man who became the story.
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