Facebook makes Nick Clegg its head of global affairs and communications

Nick Clegg is head of global affairs and communications

Social network Facebook has hired former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg as its vice president, head of global affairs and communications.

The surprise appointment will see the 51-year-old replace Elliot Schrage in the global affairs and comms role he has held for a decade.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Clegg served as deputy prime minister from 2010 to 2015, introducing the fix-term parliament bill but infamously breaking a pledge on tuition fees while in coalition with David Cameron's Conservatives.

His new employer, which boasts over 2 billion users across its app ecosystem, is under scrutiny from governments, regulators and legal authorities over a broad scope of issues including fake news and data gathering.

Commenting on his appointment in the most on-brand manner possible – a post on Facebook – Clegg acknowledged the company's challenges.

He wrote: "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.

"I believe that Facebook must continue to play a role in finding answers to those questions – not by acting alone in Silicon Valley, but by working with people, organizations, governments and regulators around the world to ensure that technology is a force for good."

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, said: "Our company is on a critical journey. The challenges we face are serious and clear and now more than ever we need new perspectives to help us though [sic] this time of change. The opportunities are clear too. Every day people use our apps to connect with family and friends and make a difference in their communities. If we can honor the trust they put in us and live up to our responsibilities, we can help more people use technology to do good. That’s what motivates our teams and from all my conversations with Nick, it’s clear that he believes in this as well. His experience and ability to work through complex issues will be invaluable in the years to come."

The Financial Times, which broke the story, reported that the former politician was the subject of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s “wooing”. Clegg himself said he had "spoken at length" to Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg "over the last few months".

Having been convinced to join them, he will take up his new post on Monday, initially spending a week at the company's Menlo Park headquarters before moving to California permanently in the new year.

Issues in his in-tray will include this week's claims that the company has overstated view metrics by as much as 900%.

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