Nick Clegg has been hired by Facebook as Vice-President of Global Affairs and Communications to ‘build bridges between politics and tech.’
The Californian based role aims to improve Facebook’s relations with Brussels where the leading social media platform is facing calls for increased regulation.
This comes after Facebook was fined £94m by the European Commission for providing ‘misleading’ information about its $19bn takeover of Whatsapp in 2014. The company has also faced scrutiny after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, which saw Facebook face the maximum £500,000 fine by the UK’s data protection watchdog.
Mr Clegg has faced criticism for joining Facebook months before the UK officially leaves the European Union. As a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign and pro-remainer lobbying to stop Brexit, his decisions to leave the UK and no longer play a public role in the Brexit debate and Britain’s future has been seen by some as a poor one.
The former politician has also previously criticised Facebook in the past, commenting in a London Evening Standard column, ‘I’m not especially bedazzled by Facebook, I actually find the messianic Californian new-worldy-touchy-feely culture of Facebook a little grating.’ However, in a recent Guardian article defending his decision to move to the US, he argued that working to bring about change at Silicon Valley is a better plan than seeking to curb them.
While surprising, the announcement has seen some positive reaction, with Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, expressing his excitement about Mr Clegg’s new role as a step forward to succumb the ‘serious concerns about Facebook’s lack of democratic accountability.’ Yet Michael Meadowcroft, a writer for The Guardian, has suggested that if he could not argue a better deal out of the 2010-15 coalition, ‘how is he going to transform the inherent inevitability of the insensitivity of the vast Facebook machine?’.
Nick Clegg is the former leader of the Liberal Democrats and was Deputy Prime Minister of the 2010-2015 Cameron-Clegg coalition government, but lost his seat in Parliament during the 2017 general election. Amongst the student population, he became controversial after not stopping the Conservatives from increasing tuition fees despite his pledge to scrap them in his 2010 election manifesto.