Facebook hires former deputy PM Sir Nick Clegg

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Facebook hires former deputy PM Sir Nick Clegg

Facebook has hired former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg as head of its global affairs and communications team.

The 51-year-old politician was leader of the Liberal Democrats and formed a coalition government with David Cameron and the Conservatives in 2010.

Facebook has faced intense scrutiny and the threat of government regulation following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and alleged election meddling.

Several prominent executives have left the company in the last year.

Mr Clegg’s new job title will be vice-president of global affairs and communications at Facebook.

He will start work on Monday and will spend a week at the company’s Menlo Park headquarters, before moving to California permanently in the new year.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg were personally involved in the recruitment, the Financial Times reported.

In a statement, Mr Clegg said he was delighted to join the company.

“Having spoken at length to Mark and Sheryl over the last few months, I have been struck by their recognition that the company is on a journey which brings new responsibilities not only to the users of Facebook’s apps but to society at large. I hope I will be able to play a role in helping to navigate that journey,” he wrote.

Mr Clegg has previously written about Facebook for a number of UK newspapers.

In 2016, he wrote in the Evening Standard: “I’m not especially bedazzled by Facebook. While I have good friends who work at the company, I actually find the messianic Californian new-worldy-touchy-feely culture of Facebook a little grating.”

What does Facebook want Nick Clegg for?

Analysis by Chris Fox, BBC technology reporter

Facebook has had a turbulent few years and is trying to get a grip on its policies and reputation.

The Cambridge Analytica data scandal revealed that the personal information of millions of people had been misused, potentially influencing the results of elections.

The company has also removed “billions” of fake accounts, linked to the spread of fake news and disinformation, possibly connected to countries such as Russia and Iran.

The BBC understands Facebook hopes Mr Clegg will challenge the company on its issues.

With his political experience as part of the UK government, and as a former MEP, he will also be well-placed to advise how to keep the regulators away.

In a Facebook post, Sheryl Sandberg said the company needed “new perspectives to help us though this time of change”.

Mr Clegg is not the first Liberal Democrat to take a senior role at Facebook. Lord Allan of Hallam is currently the company’s public policy chief for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Who is Nick Clegg?

Nick Clegg was a Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam from 2005 until 2017.

In 2010, when he was leader of the Liberal Democrats, he became deputy prime minister in a coalition government with the Conservatives.

But he faced a backlash from his supporters when he broke a promise that he would vote against any rise in university tuition fees.

The Liberal Democrats lost a majority of their seats in the 2015 general election, ending up with just eight MPs, down from 57.

Although he had kept his own seat, Mr Clegg resigned as the party leader.

He lost his seat in the snap general election of 2017.

In his statement announcing his new job at Facebook, he said it was “wrenching” to “leave the public debate at a crucial time in the Brexit process”.

“But the key decisions will soon pass to Parliament, of which I am no longer a member, and once I had decided to take up this unique new challenge at Facebook, I felt it was best to get going sooner rather than later,” he said.

Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s shadow minister for the cabinet office, said Mr Clegg’s new job was “a damning indictment of the sorry state of our country’s politics”.

“At a time when digital giants such as Facebook are rightly coming under public scrutiny, our former deputy prime minister has been hired to lobby on their behalf.”

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