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October 19, 2018updated 22 Oct 2018 2:19pm

Facebook hires Nick Clegg: How the former Lib Dem leader could bring political clout

By Lucy Ingham

In something of a curveball, Facebook has hired Nick Clegg to lead the company’s global affairs and communications team.

With the job title Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook, Clegg will begin the role on Monday, spending a week at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters before a permanent move to California in the new year.

This may seem like a bizarre move for the social media company, but with Facebook dealing with growing issues around governmental regulation – as well as increasing concerns over data protection, Clegg may be the perfect candidate to bridge the gap between the tech world and the political realm.

How Nick Clegg became a global political figure

As the former Deputy Prime Minister of the UK during the Conservative’s coalition government with Clegg’s party the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg is no stranger to the global political scene.

However, it is arguably his position as a prominent Remain campaigner during Brexit that truly brought him to international prominence. Following his camp’s defeat, Clegg continued to campaign against the move, publishing a book entitled How to Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again), which largely focused on the economic damage Brexit could bring.

But as Brexit has juddered onwards, Clegg has increasingly seemed somewhat defunct, an opinion reflected in numerous op-eds, including a piece published in August by The New York Times entitled Centrists Won’t Save Britain.

In what appears to be a growing trend for centrist British politicians no longer needed – or wanted – by their parties, Clegg has opted to follow former Labour Secretary of State David Miliband to America and into the more globally minded political world.

Facebook’s political concerns

Despite the apparently odd pairing, Nick Clegg may be exactly what the social media giant needs.

The company has seen itself increasingly facing political interest of a type it was never set up to deal with.

The scandals surrounding fake news, security breaches, Cambridge Analytica and Russian interference in elections left Facebook suffering terrible PR, a dwindling userbase and a general sense of the company failing to anticipate the political impact of being one of the world biggest means of communication.

The company’s political concerns have not stopped, and will certainly continue to grow, as new privacy concerns and political issues arise around the world.

Facebook has now accepted that reality, as is evidenced from the aggressive outreach campaign it is currently undertaking in the US to reassure policymakers than there will not be the same electoral interference as occurred in 2016.

Facebook hires Nick Clegg: a sign of a company seeking to transform?

However, until now senior leadership at Facebook has not changed to reflect this new reality at the company, which has resulted in scenes such as CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s robotic appearance before Congress.

Nick Clegg, as a generally likeable yet slick political figure, offers a bridge between Zuckerberg and his cronies’ tech-filled reality and the sharp, globally minded political world the company is trying to woo.

But whether that is a good thing entirely depends on your perspective. During his time as deputy PM, Clegg fought to protect citizens from the sharpest austerity measures that ultimately came in following his departure, indicating someone with a moral compass that many have accused Facebook of lacking.

However, for others his appointment represents another globalist adding weight to the social media giant’s dystopian clout, as lead Brexiteer Nigel Farage commented on Twitter:

“Facebook have appointed globalist propagandist Nick Clegg as Vice President for Global Affairs, this is bad news for free speech.”

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