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Facebook hires former UK deputy prime minister as it seeks 'new perspectives'

Nick Clegg is the most senior European politician to be hired by a Silicon Valley company.

The Liberal Democrat Party Conference 2018
Nick Clegg: from Westminster to Silicon Valley.
Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Facebook has hired a former deputy prime minister of the UK, Nick Clegg, to lead its global affairs team, the company announced Friday.

Clegg, who served as deputy PM from 2010 to 2015 as part of the country's coalition government, will take up the role of senior vice president, global affairs and communications, next Monday. He takes over from Elliot J. Schrage, who will stay on at the company as an adviser.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg had been in talks with Clegg over the role since the summer. Sandberg described him in a Facebook post as "a thoughtful and gifted leader"  and someone who "understands deeply the responsibilities we have to people who use our service around the world."

It's been a tumultuous year for Facebook, which has had to deal with multiple political, privacy and security scandals. Hiring Clegg, the most senior European politician to ever make the move to a Silicon Valley company, is supposed to be a sign of Facebook's commitment to changing its approach to policy and reputation. Europe, in particular, poses many regulatory challenges for Facebook, and Clegg, who spent five years as a member of the European Parliament and is an open advocate for the EU, could lend crucial expertise to the company in handling these issues.

"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 her post.

Clegg echoed those thoughts.

"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," Clegg said in a statement on his Facebook page. "I hope I will be able to play a role in helping to navigate that journey."

Clegg will primarily work from London for the next few months, before relocating in the new year to Menlo Park, California, where Facebook has its global headquarters.

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