Last week, Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced that she was leaving the company to focus on her other, external projects. Now it's been revealed that Sandberg has been under investigation at the company for several months related to using corporate resources for personal projects, possibly shedding new light on the highly public executive's departure from the company.
Sheryl Sandberg has been with Facebook since 2008. Before that, she was a VP at Google but joined the social media company in order to help the company grow its advertising business. However, in her 14 years with the company, and especially recently, the company has come under scrutiny for the way it operates its business. Charges of censorship have been rampant. The company's response to sanctioned data theft by Cambridge Analytica left many users questioning what the company's morals were.
In her public statement addressing her leaving on the company's Facebook platform, Sandberg said,
The debate around social media has changed beyond recognition since those early days. To say it hasn't always been easy is an understatement. But it should be hard. The products we make have a huge impact, so we have the responsibility to build them in a way that protects privacy and keeps people safe.
In addition to the debate over social media's role in public life, Meta has also changed its corporate focus from traditional social media to the metaverse. With that change in focus and operations, it might be time for the COO to change as well.
This week, it has been reported that COO Sheryl Sandberg is under investigation for using corporate resources for her own projects. These include but might not be limited to her second book, her second wedding, and even her Lean In Foundation. It is not immediately clear how much of the company's resources might have been used, but it does appear that employees on the company payroll have been used for these projects. This investigation has been going on since last Fall, with several employees being questioned about their participation or knowledge.
This revelation follows another one from April where the company was investigating her for her participation in a potential coverup of news surrounding her partner, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. It is alleged that Sandberg bribed or threatened, using the Facebook name, UK Daily Mail in order to kill at least two stories about Kotick in 2016 and 2019. There are plenty of unflattering stories that could have been written about Kotick as he is likely the most hated executive in the gaming industry, and it is unclear if the threats worked.
Officially, the company is holding the line that Sandberg did not work with Facebook and Activision in order to kill the story. A spokesperson said,
Sheryl Sandberg never threatened the MailOnline's business relationship with Facebook in order to influence an editorial decision.
This could be standard corporate language, could indicate that the threats didn't work, or that the results of the investigation showed she was uninvolved. Either way, it is unfortunate timing for her to have 2 recent investigations into her behavior followed by her departure from the company.