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In a turn of events that sound like they were formed by a random headline generator, Nick Clegg, the ex-Deputy Prime Minister of the UK, has agreed to join Facebook. Clegg will be leading the company’s Global Affairs and Communications team.

Clegg will be working at Facebook’s Menlo Park HQ from Monday for a week, but he will be moving to Silicon Valley full time in the new year. He’s taking over from Elliot Schrage, who announced his departure in the summer. Coincidentally, Schrage’s departure was announced just a couple of months before Rachel Whetstone – Whetstone is married to Steve Hilton, who was advisor to Clegg’s coalition partner David Cameron.

In a statement, Clegg said:

“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.”

Why Nick Clegg and Facebook might be a perfect match

The move might look odd, but there are a number of reasons it could just work.

Facebook has faced a series of scandals in 2018 that has seriously damaged the company’s reputation. With the political dimension of many of these scandals becoming clearer – from fake news to fake accounts – having an experienced political figure at the helm of its global communications department could be precisely what the organization needs to move forward.

But Facebook’s challenges don’t end with political scandals – the spectre of government regulation represents a threat to Facebook’s power. With the EU’s copyright directive widely regarded as an attempt to thwart the power of tech platforms like Facebook, it makes a lot of sense to have Nick Clegg on board to build a better relationship with Brussels. As a former MEP (Member of European Parliament) and trade negotiator for the EU Commission, Clegg will bring some real insight into the inner workings of the EU to Silicon Valley.

Tech and politics: the next chapter begins in 2019

2018 might be the year of the ‘techlash’ but don’t expect it to reach an end any time soon. Nick Clegg joining Facebook might look strange, but from the company’s perspective it’s a vital step in preparing for the next chapter in this bizarre story of technological hubris and political disruption.

Co-editor of the Packt Hub. Interested in politics, tech culture, and how software and business are changing each other.