Chris Cox returns to Facebook as chief product officer after quitting last year

Cox left Facebook last March amid the company's efforts to become a more privacy-focused platform.

Chris Cox, a longtime Facebook executive who left the social network last year amid differences with CEO Mark Zuckerberg, announced that he is returning to the company in his old role as chief product officer. 

Prior to his departure from Facebook, Cox was responsible for overseeing the company's family of apps, such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram and the core Facebook app. 

Cox's decision to leave the social network coincided with Facebook's efforts to become a more privacy-focused platform. He noted in his exit announcement that the company was "turning a new page" in its product direction, focused on end-to-end encryption, and creating an interoperable messaging network.

"This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through," he wrote at the time. 

Cox said in a Facebook post Thursday that he used his year-long hiatus to spend time with family, play with his reggae band, and contribute to progressive political causes ahead of the November US general election. When the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year, Cox said he began to recognize the social significance of Facebook's products and the role they can play in society. 

"Facebook and our products have never been more relevant to our future," Cox wrote. "I reached out to Mark awhile ago and I told him I'd be interested to help. I've been following Facebook and I've been encouraged by progress on so many of the big issues facing us. In the past month the world has grown more chaotic and unstable, which has only given me more resolve to help out. Our most important decisions and products are ahead of us.
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Cox said his first day back on the job is June 22. 

Meanwhile, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced in another Facebook post that the company was expanding the role of chief diversity officer Maxine Williams. Sandberg said Williams will report to her going forward.

"We are expanding Maxine's role and putting Diversity & Inclusion at the heart of our ongoing management team discussions and processes – at the heart of all we do," Sandberg wrote.