Chris Cox crosses paths with Mark Zuckerberg at a Facebook staff meeting. Photo: Facebook

As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sets out on an ambitious but challenging effort to remake the social network, he will be doing so without 2 of the company's seasoned veterans.

Driving the news: Facebook announced the exit of product chief Chris Cox and WhatsApp head Chris Daniels on Thursday.

  • Cox, one of Facebook's earliest hires, who was instrumental in the development of the News Feed, was widely viewed as the company's number 3 executive after Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Why it matters: The departures come as Zuckerberg looks to shift focus away from the News Feed and toward private, personal communications that work across Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Between the lines: It was apparently not a direction that sat well with Cox, who said in a public post about his exit:

"As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network. ... This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through."
Chris Cox

What we're hearing: According to NYT's Mike Isaac, both executives had issues with Zuckerberg's move.

  • While Daniels' exit had apparently been planned for some time, the departures were announced as the company grapples with other challenges on the technical and legal fronts.
  • Facebook spent Thursday trying to recover from an hours-long outage, the worst disruption in the company's history. Facebook said a glitch with a server configuration led to the unexpected downtime.
  • And the NYT reported on Wednesday that the company is under criminal investigation for its data-sharing deals with other tech companies.

The bottom line: Facebook's plate of troubles continues to overflow. Or, as my former co-worker Kara Swisher wrote in her column, "I think we can safely say that only Aunt Becky from 'Full House' — that would be Lori Loughlin, captain of the college admissions bad parenting squad — is having a worse time this week."

Separately, Instagram communications head Kristina Schake is also leaving Facebook. She is filling in as Michelle Obama's communications director while the former First Lady continues her book tour. (The person who normally does that job, Caroline Adler Morales, is on maternity leave.)

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 18,187,396 — Total deaths: 691,352 — Total recoveries — 10,841,436Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 4,711,323 — Total deaths: 155,379 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. Politics: White House will require staff to undergo randomized coronavirus testing — Pelosi says Birx "enabled" Trump on misinformation.
  4. Sports: 13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive, prompting MLB to cancel Tigers series — Former FDA chief says MLB outbreaks should be warning sign for schools.
  5. 1 🎥 thing: "Tenet" may be the first major film to get a global pandemic release.

In photos: Thousands evacuated as Southern California fire grows

A plane makes a retardant drop on a ridge at the Apple Fire north of Banning in Riverside County, which "doubled in size" Saturday, per KTLA. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A massive wildfire that prompted mandatory evacuations in Southern California over the weekend burned 26,450 acres and was 5% contained by Monday afternoon, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The big picture: As California remains an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., some 15 separate fires are raging across the state. About 7,800 people were under evacuation orders from the Apple Fire, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles, as hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze. CalFire said Monday that a malfunction involving a "diesel-fueled vehicle emitting burning carbon from the exhaust system" started the Apple Fire.

Twitter faces FTC fine of up to $250 million over alleged privacy violations

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket

The Federal Trade Commission has accused Twitter of using phone numbers and emails from its users to make targeted ads between 2013 and 2019, Twitter said in an SEC filing published Monday.

Why it matters: Twitter estimates that the FTC's draft complaint, which was sent a few days after its Q2 earnings report, could cost the company between $150 million and $250 million. The complaint is unrelated to the recent Twitter hack involving a bitcoin scam.