Facebook has hired Nick Clegg to lead its global affairs

Former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is to head up Facebook’s global affairs and communications, the Financial Times has reported.

According to the paper, Clegg’s recruitment has come after “months of wooing” by Mark Zuckerberg, and will see the ex-Liberal Democrat leader move to Silicon Valley in January to join Facebook’s leadership team.

The surprise hire comes after months of turbulence for the social network, from the Cambridge Analytica scandal  to a cyber attack that exposed the personal information of 30 million users. The company has also seen a number of high-profile departures from the Facebook-owned services WhatsApp and Instagram.

Clegg will succeed Elliot Schrage, who announced his departure from Facebook in June.

With experience as a former European Commission trade negotiator and member of the European Parliament, as well as his previous roles in UK government, Clegg will be seen as a move by Facebook to bolster itself in the face of mounting calls for regulation.

Much of this has come from the US government, as well as from the EU – and it’s with the latter that Clegg could play an important role, given his relationships with the European Parliament. How the former deputy prime minister will fare against US politics, on the other hand, is hard to glean.  

Writing last year in the i paper, Clegg penned a defence of Facebook and other Silicon Valley tech firms: 

“It’s time we pause for breath before everyone charges off in a stampede of condemnation of tax-dodging-fake-news-extremism-promoting-data-controlling tech firms,” he wrote. “The unthinking mood of hostility could soon topple into outright Luddism against new forms of technology.”

Elsewhere in the article, Clegg called for a “new deal between the tech world and politics”, saying that tech companies need to embrace new ways for people to control their personal data, and governments should “avoid a knee-jerk condemnation of the disruption and potency of new technologies”.

Clegg has most recently been in the public eye as a high-profile campaigner for a second EU referendum. According to the FT, he will begin work with Facebook over the coming weeks before relocating to Silicon Valley in the new year.  

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