In Depth

Nick Clegg hired as Facebook’s head of global affairs

Former Lib Dem leader in surprise appointment at critical time for the social media giant

Social media giant Facebook has hired Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, as its head of global affairs and communications.

The former Lib Dem leader will take over the position from Elliot Schrage, who announced in June he would leave Facebook after ten years. Clegg is “set to move to Silicon Valley in January next year”, the Financial Times reports.

The move comes “after a difficult few months for the social media giant”, says Politico, as it has faced regulatory challenges in Europe over data protection and various political pressures in the US.

The company faces looming legal difficulties after a security breach saw the details of some three million Europeans put at risk, “something which which put it on a collision course with the EU's new General Data Protection Regulations”, says The Indepedent.

In a statement on the social media platform, Clegg said: “I am delighted to be joining Facebook. After almost 20 years in European and British politics, this is an exciting new adventure for me.

“Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, Oculus and Instagram are at the heart of so many people’s everyday lives - but also at the heart of some of the most complex and difficult questions we face as a society: the privacy of the individual; the integrity of our democratic process; the tensions between local cultures and the global internet; the balance between free speech and prohibited content; the power and concerns around artificial intelligence; and the wellbeing of our children.”

Clegg added that “as someone who has spent a lifetime arguing for Britain’s wholehearted commitment to Europe, it is of course a wrench to be leaving 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.”

The appointment of Clegg as the company’s chief lobbyist in essence “is an astute hire on Facebook’s part”, says the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush.

They are “signing a politician who is both well-versed in the relevant policy issues, but is also intimately acquainted with the key power players in the European Union, the toughest regulatory area that the social media juggernaut has to operate in,” he writes.

But to say the announcement came as a surprise would be an understatement, with many voicing their bewilderment online:

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