SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook is losing a top executive who was a confidant of its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg.
Elliot Schrage, a Facebook vice president, said on Thursday that he was leaving the social network, ending a decade in which he played a central role in the company’s communications, marketing and public policy. He was most recently an architect of Facebook’s responses to a range of scandals, including the rise of misinformation on the site and the misuse of user data by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
Mr. Schrage, 57, had been discussing his exit for months, said one person who had recently spoken to him and who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly. But there was some internal pressure for Mr. Schrage to leave because of criticism of how Facebook has dealt with fallout from Cambridge Analytica and other issues, said three people with knowledge of his conversations with Facebook executives.
Vanessa Chan, a Facebook spokeswoman, disputed that Mr. Schrage was under pressure to depart. She said Mr. Schrage had first discussed stepping down before the 2016 election and had stayed on after Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg asked him not to go.
Now “Elliot wants to start a new chapter in his life,” Ms. Chan said, adding that he would help look for his replacement and consult with Facebook’s leadership on key projects.
Mr. Schrage, who did not respond to requests for comment, said in a statement posted on Facebook that “leading policy and communications for hyper growth technology companies is a joy — but it’s also intense and leaves little room for much else.”
His departure was earlier reported by Recode.
Several executives have recently left Facebook, or have said they plan to. In March, The New York Times reported that Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief information security officer, intended to leave after disagreeing over how to handle the threat of Russian agents’ using the social network to influence American voters. And Jan Koum, who sold the messaging app WhatsApp to Facebook in 2014, said in April that he was leaving the company after becoming increasingly concerned about its position on user data.
Facebook faced particular criticism early this year when it waited more than five days to issue a response after The Times and others reported that Cambridge Analytica had improperly harvested the data of millions of Facebook users. The company also was faulted for being too slow to reveal the extent of Russian manipulation of Facebook during the 2016 American presidential election.
Mr. Schrage was known for often taking a wait-and-see approach on major issues, according to two people who have worked with him at Facebook. After the Russian manipulation, Mr. Schrage initially resisted the idea of an internal investigation, arguing that it could open Facebook up to further criticism, one of the people said. It was only when the evidence of meddling became overwhelming that Mr. Schrage agreed that the company had to issue a statement, the person said.
Mr. Schrage previously worked with Ms. Sandberg at the Council on Foreign Relations and at Google. In 2008, she brought him to Facebook. Over the years, he also worked closely with Mr. Zuckerberg and often traveled with him.
In his statement on Facebook, Mr. Schrage said he “had more than just a front row seat to one of the most important developments in human history, but the chance to be in the arena.”
“That brings extraordinary opportunity,” he continued, “and it demands responsibility and accountability.”
Minutes after Mr. Schrage’s post was published, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg posted their responses. Both thanked Mr. Schrage for his years at Facebook and said they would continue to call on him for advice.
“You’ve been instrumental in building our policy and communications teams as well as pushing many of our key initiatives,” Ms. Sandberg wrote. “Mark and I look forward to your ongoing advice over the years ahead.”
Follow Sheera Frenkel on Twitter: @sheeraf.