Facebook plunges amid surprise exit of top execs, mosque attacks

Facebook’s stock slid as much as 5 percent Friday as Wall Street got rattled by the surprise exit of two top execs and the bloody Christchurch massacre in New Zealand that got streamed on Facebook Live.

Outrage over Facebook’s poor policing of its live-video platform resurfaced Friday, as a gunman killed 49 people in a rampage that got widely shared on the social network, renewing calls for stepped-up content moderation.

“The live-streaming of New Zealand’s shooting will certainly bring on more questions of regulation and scrutiny over Facebook. It helped provide a platform for today’s horrific attack and will undoubtedly be called into question for facilitating the spread of this,” said Clement Thibault, analyst at global financial markets platform Investing.com.

Other analysts on the Street were less inclined to blame Facebook for the Friday horror online.

“They can’t know everything that is being uploaded to and distributed by their platforms in real time,” CFRA Research analyst Kessler told The Post. “That’s one of the challenges of being these companies with this scale that they have achieved on a global basis.”

Tech analyst Shelly Palmer agreed that the horrific images on Facebook’s platform shouldn’t spook investors because the shooter could just as easily have broadcast his violence using another service.

“This isn’t Facebook-specific,” Palmer said. “It’s a video posted on the Internet.”

“People are going to use these platforms and these tools in terrible ways,” Palmer added. This is a situation where the blame has to fall on the bad actor and not Facebook.”

Elsewhere, investors remained unsettled about Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s surprise Thursday announcement that Chris Cox — widely seen as the company’s No. 3 executive behind operating chief Sheryl Sandberg — was leaving the company. Chris Daniels, the head of WhatsApp, is also exiting.

The news came only a week after Zuckerberg disclosed plans to switch the company’s focus toward private messaging between its Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp apps — and away from Facebook’s News Feed, which is under increasing heat over fake news and privacy issues.

Cox, who has been in charge of News Feed, hinted in his own Thursday blog post that he wasn’t the right person for the job, and that Facebook needs leaders who are “excited to see the new direction through.”

“[Facebook] now moving to a privacy-centric approach is a massive shift, and Cox was not going to be a co-pilot on that plane,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told The Post. “It’s like Shake Shack deciding not to sell hamburgers anymore — the cook focused on burgers is going to look elsewhere.”

Facebook shares, which hit their lowest level in nearly three months on Friday, finished the day down 2.5 percent, at $165.98.

With Reuters

Shares of Facebook Inc. fell as much as 5 percent Friday to their lowest in nearly three months after the surprise departure of chief product officer Chris Cox, at a time when the company is again being scrutinized over its handling of privacy, extremism and political content.

Cox, a Wall Street favorite who has worked with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for 13 years, led the social network’s business development team and helped define the business model of its messaging service WhatsApp.

“We believe Cox played a critical role in establishing FB’s mission, values, and culture, and he was extremely well-regarded inside and outside the company, including by Wall Street,” JPMorgan analysts wrote in a research note.

Also departing is WhatsApp vice president Chris Daniels, adding to a string of recent high-profile exits from Facebook’s product and communications teams.

Facebook, Twitter and Google were also facing another round of public discussions over extremist content on their platforms Friday, after video footage of mass shootings in New Zealand was livestreamed and widely shared online.

“The livestreaming of New Zealand’s shooting will certainly bring on more questions of regulation and scrutiny over Facebook. It helped provide a platform for today’s horrific attack and will undoubtedly be called into question for facilitating the spread of this,” said Clement Thibault, analyst at global financial markets platform Investing.com.

The gunman, who was part of attacks that killed 49 people in New Zealand, broadcast live footage on Facebook of the attack on one of the mosques, leading to calls for more content moderation by the social network.

Britain’s Interior Minister Sajid Javid said social media firms must take action to stop extremism on their channels after Friday’s shootings.

“You really need to do more @YouTube @Google @facebook @Twitter to stop violent extremism being promoted on your platforms,” Javid wrote on Twitter.

The social media companies have said they would take down content involving the mass shootings, which were posted online as the attack unfolded.

Facebook has been investing heavily to weed out fake content from its platform and has hired thousands of employees for moderating content and suspended hundreds of suspicious accounts in different countries.

The company’s shares were down 2.5 percent at $165.83 in midday trade.

Source: Read Full Article