Sandberg quit Meta partly due to use of corporate resource for wedding - WSJ report

Sheryl Sandberg, Meta's COO
The report said the Chief Operating Officer was also suffering from burnout. Photo credit: Getty Images

Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg's shock exit from Facebook parent company Meta was partly due to an investigation into her behaviour, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The report said Sandberg, who had been at the company for 14 years, was also suffering from burn out.

The Journal said a company investigation was continuing, as of May, into her use of corporate resources to help plan her wedding to Tom Bernthal.

Sandberg has been wed twice before. Her second marriage to Dave Goldberg ended when he died suddenly in 2015.

She became engaged to Bernthal in 2019.

The newspaper had already contacted Meta about an incident in the past when Sandberg was alleged to have pushed a tabloid newspaper in the UK to halt an article about a former boyfriend.

Caroline Nolan, a Meta spokeswoman, said: "None of this has anything to do with her personal decision to leave."

In her Facebook post announcing her decision to resign, Sandberg said she took the job in 2008 initially aiming to be in it for five years.

In the future she would be focusing on her foundation and philanthropic work "which is more important to me than ever given how critical this moment is for women".

"I still believe as strongly as ever in our mission, and I am honoured that I will continue to serve on Meta's board of directors," Sandberg also wrote.

"I am so immensely proud of everything this team has achieved. And I'm especially proud that this is a company where many, many exceptional women and people from diverse backgrounds have risen through our ranks and become leaders - both in our company and in leadership roles elsewhere."

While Sandberg's role in helping lead the way for women in technology leadership roles, her time in charge of Facebook will also be remembered for a number of scandals.

Those include stories about the company's algorithms amplifying hate speech and misinformation, according to Roger McNamee, who helped CEO Mark Zuckerburg recruit Sandberg.

Writing in Time, McNamee - who has also written a book entitled Zucked: Waking up to the Facebook Catastrophe - said the company's "recommendation engines drove vulnerable people towards extreme content, all in the name of profit".

"The damage to public health, democracy, the right to self-determination, and competition by Facebook is arguably the worst by any corporation in a century or more," said McNamee.

"The company played a central role in politicising the nation's response to a pandemic, enabled the insurrection at the US Capitol and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, and has been exploited by mass killers bent on live streaming their crimes.

"All of this happened while Sheryl Sandberg was chief operating officer."

Javier Olivan, Meta's chief growth officer, will take over from Sandberg when she finishes with the company in the Autumn, US time.