Facebook is losing its top lawyer who lead its Russia investigation

Facebook’s top lawyer Colin Stretch announced he would be leaving the company by the end of 2018.

Alex Wong / Techhnews

It’s an open-and-shut case for Facebook’s top lawyer. 

Colin Stretch, Facebook’s General Counsel, announced on Tuesday afternoon that he would be leaving the social network by the end of the year. 

In a Facebook post, Stretch said that the company’s legal team needed a leader that was based at Facebook’s headquarters. Stretch has been based in Washington, DC for “several years,” he said in his post. 

“As Facebook embraces the broader responsibility Mark [Zuckerberg] has discussed in recent months, I’ve concluded that the company and the Legal team need sustained leadership in Menlo Park,” Stretch wrote. 

Stretch has testified to Congress on multiple occasions on behalf of Facebook, answering lawmaker’s questions on Russian interference during the 2016 US presidential election. Stretch was in charge of Facebook’s investigation into Russian election interference, where nation-state sponsored trolls took advantage of the social network to spread propaganda to millions of people

 He first joined the company in 2010, serving as a senior member of its legal team before he was promoted in 2013. The accomplished lawyer was behind Facebook’s 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and led the social network’s court victory over the Winkevoss Twins in the same year. 

It’s been quite a year for Stretch, as well as Facebook. The company is facing criticism over its misinformation policies for allowing conspiracy theorists to thrive, while lawmakers continue to argue that the social network needs to be regulated. In March, Facebook endured backlash over its Cambridge Analytica data scandal, where the UK-based firm misused data obtained on millions of people. 

Stretch isn’t the only Facebook executive who’s left the company after the turmoil. In June, Facebook’s long-time head of policy and communications, Elliot Schrage, said he was stepping down after 10 years with the company. In April, WhatsApp’s founder Jan Koum said he was leaving Facebook after a dispute over security.

In a response to Stretch’s post, Zuckerberg wrote, “Thank you for the wise counsel you have provided, and for your dedication to Facebook over the years. The work that goes into supporting our mission comes in many forms, and over the past eight years, you and your team have accomplished so much in protecting the people who use our services.”

It is unclear who will replace Stretch. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook is conducting a search for his replacement. 

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