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Photo: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

The departure of Facebook’s policy and communications czar, Elliot Schrage, comes as the company navigates a difficult period marked by scandals over foreign election meddling and consumer data privacy.

Why it matters: Policy and communications are exactly the areas where Facebook has needed the most help throughout its recent controversies, and the company's choice of new leadership there will provide clues to how it intends to move forward.

What they’re saying: A Facebook spokesperson said in an email that Schrage “first raised wanting to leave long before the election — after the election Mark [Zuckerberg] and Sheryl [Sandberg] asked him to stay on, which he agreed to do” and that he has “decided it’s time to start a new chapter in his life.”

Schrage's replacement will take charge of the social network’s efforts in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, including an already active public campaign to repair the company's image. Recently, Facebook has been running online ads focused on how it fights misinformation. It has also turned to television spots, an uncommon move for the internet giant.

What we’re hearing:

  • Rachel Whetstone, a former Google and Uber executive who Facebook just promoted to lead corporate communications, is seen as a leading candidate to take over Schrage’s job, or at least to gain more authority following his departure, according to multiple sources.
  • Schrage will help find his replacement in a search that will include outside candidates.

The bigger picture: Whetstone’s recent rise could be a function of the company's persistent troubles with the government and the public.

  • "She’s less necessary when you have fewer problems," said a source who has worked with both Whetstone and Schrage. "She’s the person you kind of want guiding you through crisis."
  • The source added that Whetstone is "very good at seeing how a company is viewed by the outside world, and not kind of drinking company Kool-Aid."

Whetstone's possible ascent has some on the company's communications team uneasy, multiple sources said, given that her start at Uber was followed by the departure of multiple longtime staffers. But she is also credited with decisiveness, and that could be something Facebook prizes as it navigates new crises.

Go deeper

12 mins ago - World

Honduras elects first female president

Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro, of the Libertad y Refundacion (Libre) Party, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Sunday. Photo: Inti Ocon/Getty Images

Former Honduras first lady Xiomara Castro is set to become the country's first female president president, after the ruling party conceded defeat in the country's elections on Tuesday night, per AP.

Why it matters: The democratic socialist and her Libre Party have broken a 12-year run for the conservative National Party, which U.S. prosecutors alleged fostered a "narco-state," note Axios' Latinos' Marina E. Franco and Russell Contreras.

Food delivery "ghost kitchens" face major obstacles

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The growing popularity of food delivery has given rise to startups that open "ghost kitchens" — kitchens in warehouses or trailers that prepare food solely for delivery and have no option to dine in.

  • But they can come with a whole host of problems.

The big picture: The concept of "ghost kitchens" has been dubbed the next big thing in the future of services, with high profile backers like Uber founder Travis Kalanick. But these kitchens can be hard to run or unsafe.

3 hours ago - Health

Federal judge blocks Biden vaccine mandate for health workers

President Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant at the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers at federally funded facilities nationwide.

The big picture: The order comes one day after a federal judge in Missouri halted the mandate, which has a Jan. 4 deadline, in 10 states.