Facebook GC Colin Stretch to Leave at the End of the Year

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Colin Stretch, Facebook general counsel, testifies during a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. Elections via the use of social media, on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. Photo credit: Diego Radzinschi/ALM[/caption] Facebook’s vice president and general counsel, Colin Stretch, announced in a post on the social network Tuesday that he will be leaving the company at the end of this year. Stretch, who started working at Facebook in 2010, said in the post that he knew a few years ago when he relocated with his wife back to Washington D.C., that he would not be able to stay at Facebook forever. He said in the post that as the company “embraces the broader responsibility” discussed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in recent months, the legal team based in Menlo Park, California will need “sustained leadership.” “This has not been an easy decision," he wrote. "Companies are made up of people, and the people here are talented, caring, and most of all committed to doing the right thing. Even now, eight-and-a-half years after I started, I often stop myself and ask how I got so lucky to be a part of this.” A spokesperson for Facebook said the company does not have a statement on Stretch’s departure and that Stretch will not be commenting beyond his original post. Stretch started at Facebook as deputy general counsel and was named the leader of the legal department in 2013, succeeding Ted Ullyot. He helped lead the company through major steps in its evolution, including its 2012 IPO. Stretch also played an active role in defending Facebook in litigation brought by the Winklevoss twins and led negotiations between Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission over data sharing. Stretch has moved into the spotlight more recently as his company takes on backlash around the spread of “fake news” and over questions over its handling of user data, which came to a head with the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year. The GC was called to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in November over Russia’s alleged use of the social media platform to influence the election. During his much-watched testimony he acknowledged the use of fake profiles to spread misinformation and said the company was continuing to put in efforts to curb those activities. “Going forward, we’re making some very significant investments—we’re hiring more ad reviewers, doubling or more our security engineering efforts, putting in place tighter ad content restrictions, launching new tools to improve ad transparency, and requiring documentation from political ad buyers,” Stretch told the committee. Stretch, whose brother, Brian Stretch, is the former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California and a current Sidley Austin partner, said in his Facebook post that he's committed to assisting with the company's shift over to a new GC. “There is never a ‘right time’ for a transition like this, but the team and the company boast incredible talent and will navigate this well," he wrote. Before joining Facebook, Stretch was a partner at Kellog, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel in Washington, D.C. for 10 years. He served as a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the late 1990s.