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.
In a statement given to the BBC Media, Sir Nick mentioned he had been working on the frontiers of technology and politics for the last few years. Before his appointment by Facebook, he was busy with his think-tank ‘Open Reason’ and working on his book ‘How to stop Brexit.’
‘I thought, I could do this academically, as a commentator, running a start-up, but then I thought, in for a penny, in for a pound,’ he explained.
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.’
Facebook has had a rough year; losing its chief security officer, the Cambridge Analytica scandal and privacy concerns raised by its portal video chat screens among others.
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.’
Nick is not the first politician to be employed by the tech giant. But increasing concerns from regulators over the practices of big tech have put new winds behind the sails of the ‘should tech be regulated?’ discussion’
Facebook hopes Nick may be able to challenge on the tech issues that wade in politics and business, helping them manage relations better.
Some have expressed their disappointment over the hire, saying the tech giant is simply looking for people to help it lobby against regulators.
It is a damning indictment of the sorry state of our country’s politics that, at a time when digital giants such as Facebook are rightly coming under public scrutiny, our former Deputy Prime Minister has been hired to lobby on their behalf https://t.co/XcltuPgwci
— Jon Trickett (@jon_trickett) October 19, 2018
In his statement announcing his new job at Facebook, he said it was ‘wrenching’ to ‘leave the public debate at a crucial time in the Brexit process.’
‘But the key decisions will soon pass to Parliament, of which I am no longer a member, and once I had decided to take up this unique new challenge at Facebook, I felt it was best to get going sooner rather than later,’ he said.