As Facebook faces more scrutiny over serial scandals triggered by privacy violations, election meddling, and fake news, the social media giant has hired former UK deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to head its global affairs and communications, reports Reuters.
With the appointment, Clegg, who was deputy to David Cameron for five years (2010 to 2015) and a former leader of Liberal Democrats Britain, will become the first senior European politician to have a leadership role in Silicon Valley.
The hiring process was closely supervised by CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sherly Sandberg, who started talking to Clegg since summer, Facebook said.
While congratulating Clegg on a Facebook post, Sandberg admitted that the company, which is currently facing serious challenges, is “on a critical journey” and “need new perspectives to help us through this time of challenge”
Clegg, 51, will succeed the departing Elliot Schrage and will report to Sandberg starting on Monday. He will move to Silicon Valley with his family in January 2019.
Tensions over Facebook data privacy have recently heightened and officials from the European Union along with members of the US Congress have criticized Facebook for not being able to fight these threats in the form of data breaches, Russian election meddling, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Hiring Clegg could mean that Facebook is looking forward to pushing back against continued efforts from EU to regulate tech companies.
Clegg has served as a negotiator for European Commission trade, which has records of slamming some valuable companies in Silicon Valley billions of dollars in fines for regulations infringement. One of the most prominent recent fines being Google’s $5 billion fine by the commission for anti-trust behavior involving the Android operating system.
Facebook is already at the verge of being sanctioned by the EU commission over its terms of service. Czech politician and lawyer Věra Jourová, who is currently the European Commission commissioner for justice, consumers, and gender equity, disclosed that the sanction would come as early as next year, having been looking at Facebook’s current privacy policies and data transparency for some time now.
Facebook, Google, and Twitter were among the companies that had significantly bumped up their privacy standards earlier this year, following complaints of violations after the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation went into effect. Clegg Facebook career as an executive member will help the company circumnavigate these new sweeping rules that are relatively new.
Clegg is expected to wield more power than he ever did in politics if he succeeds in Facebook, with the most crucial part of his new job being to challenge Mark Zuckerberg frequently while also maintaining a good relationship with him. Without the relationship going well, Clegg could head back home sooner than most of us had expected.