Brandon Silverman, the founder and CEO of the Facebook-owned analytics tool CrowdTangle, is leaving the company, according to an internal farewell post to colleagues sent Wednesday, which was viewed by The edge.
His departure comes as Facebook is under pressure to publicly share more data about the content spread on its service. CrowdTangle, a free tool that lets anyone track popular posts across Facebook and Instagram, is at the center of that debate. In recent years, it has been used to show that right-wing extremist personalities are regularly the most engaged accounts on Facebook. It annoyed some Facebook executives who thought the data shared by CrowdTangle was incomplete, and earlier this year the CrowdTangle team was disbanded as an independent team.
Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne confirmed Silverman’s departure, saying it would have “no change in the day-to-day running of the CrowdTangle product experience.” He added that Silverman left the “day-to-day management” of CrowdTangle after it was moved into Facebook’s broader integrity organization a few months ago “as part of a growing package of transparency resources,” such as the company’s advertising library.
Facebook acquired CrowdTangle in 2016 when it encouraged media companies to write more on its news feed, and the tool is still used to track viral posts on the social network. “You are not doing this work because you are looking for a specific outcome, our credibility or legitimacy or trust, but because so many public interest organizations simply need this data to do their job,” Silverman said in his farewell speech to employees.
“I’m not sure what the future holds for CrowdTangle or data transparency here on Facebook, but I’m optimistic,” he wrote.
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