Facebook hires Nick Clegg as head of global affairs

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Facebook has hired former British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as VP of global affairs and communications, a company spokesperson confirmed to CNBC.

Clegg replaces Elliot Schrage, who announced his departure as head of communications and global policy in June after about 10 years at the company. Clegg, who will report to Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg, starts his job on Monday. He will work from London for the first few months and move with his family to California early next year.

“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 this time of change,” Sandberg said in a statement on her Facebook page.

Facebook said Schrage will remain at Facebook as an advisor. It said Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg first met with Clegg in the summer.

It’s notable that Facebook tapped someone from outside the company for the job. Facebook has a reputation for promoting a tight circle of executives close to Zuckerberg and Sandberg.

Clegg addressed as much in conversations with Facebook’s top executives, he told the BBC.

“I said to them, if you’re prepared to let me into the inner circle, in the black box, and me give real authority, then I’m interested,” Clegg said according to the BBC.

The company is seeing increasing pressure in Europe over user-privacy issues. The European Union’s stricter guidelines for collecting and storing user data, dubbed GDPR, took effect in May. Facebook could now face its first challenge under the restrictions, after a September security breach affected approximately 3 million Europeans.

As vice president of global affairs, Clegg will also be in charge of grappling with Facebook’s growing number of PR crises around privacy, election meddling and security. His hiring at Facebook would fill one of several notable vacancies among the company’s top ranks.

“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,” Clegg wrote in a post on his Facebook page Friday.

Clegg is the former leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats party in the U.K. He shot onto the scene in 2010 when his party joined the Conservatives in a coalition that ushered in austerity after the financial crash of 2008. Clegg also allowed student fees to rise on his watch, which increased the cost of college tuition, after promising not to do so during his election campaign. This damaged his political career and hurt the Liberal Democrats at the next election. He is also a known Europhile who was against Brexit and speaks multiple languages.

— CNBC’s David Reid and Matt Clinch contributed to this report.



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Pravin Auti Author