Facebook has hired former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg as head of its global affairs and communications team. The 51-year-old politician was leader of the Liberal Democrats and formed a coalition government with David Cameron and the Conservatives in 2010.
Facebook has faced intense scrutiny and the threat of government regulation following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and alleged election meddling. Several prominent executives have left the company in the last year.
Sir Nick’s new job title will be vice-president of global affairs and communications at Facebook.
He will start work on Monday and will spend a week at the company’s Menlo Park headquarters, before moving to California with his family permanently in the new year.
Sir Nick told BBC media editor Amol Rajan he has been working on the frontier between technology and politics for the last few years.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg were personally involved in the recruitment, the Financial Times reported.
In a statement, Sir Nick said he was delighted to join the company.
“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,” he wrote.
The former Lib Dem leader has expanded further on his reasons for joining the company in a Guardian article, stating that he remains “a stubborn optimist about the progressive potential to society of technological innovation”.
He added: “If the tech industry can work sensibly with governments, regulators, parliaments and civic society around the world, I believe we can enhance the benefits of technology while diminishing the often unintended downsides.”
Sir Nick has previously written about Facebook for a number of UK newspapers.
In 2016, he wrote in the Evening Standard: “I’m not especially bedazzled by Facebook. While I have good friends who work at the company, I actually find the messianic Californian new-worldy-touchy-feely culture of Facebook a little grating.”
Facebook has had a turbulent few years and is trying to get a grip on its policies and reputation. The Cambridge Analytica data scandal revealed that the personal information of millions of people had been misused, potentially influencing the results of elections.
The company has also removed “billions” of fake accounts, linked to the spread of fake news and disinformation, possibly connected to countries such as Russia and Iran. Facebook hopes Sir Nick will challenge the company on its issues.