What does the promotion of Nick Clegg mean for Meta?

17 Feb 2022

Nick Clegg. Image: Moritz Hager/Flickr

The former UK politician takes leadership of Meta policy decisions months ahead of the US mid-term elections in November.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is taking a step back from his role in making policy decisions and making way for Nick Clegg, the company’s new president of global affairs.

Clegg, who is a former deputy prime minister of the UK, joined Meta (then Facebook) in 2018 as vice-president of global affairs and communications, helping defend the company against regulators for its role in the 2016 US presidential election.

Zuckerberg announced the promotion in a Facebook post yesterday (16 February) as the company looks to develop its concept of metaverse and prepares for the regulatory attention that is expected to come with it. Clegg will report directly to Zuckerberg and Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg.

“We need a senior leader at the level of myself (for our products) and Sheryl (for our business) who can lead and represent us for all of our policy issues globally,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“Nick will now lead our company on all our policy matters, including how we interact with governments as they consider adopting new policies and regulations, as well as how we make the case publicly for our products and our work.”

What does this mean for Meta?

The top job in policy decision-making will be imperative to Meta’s smooth sailing in the near future as global regulators view its products with increasing scrutiny and as the US heads for mid-term elections in November.

The upcoming elections may also be why Peter Thiel, a long-time board member and confidant of Zuckerberg, announced his departure from the Meta board earlier this month. He is said to be focused on supporting Trump allies in the elections, amid reports that he has grown weary of some recent Facebook moderation decisions.

Clegg has been instrumental in defending Meta against the barrage of accusations and blows dealt to the company by whistleblower Frances Haugen late last year as she claimed Facebook prioritises profit over public good and lies about its internal research.

He also helped establish the company’s independent oversight board to review its content policies and decisions.

His appointment will mean more time for Zuckerberg to focus on the metaverse, a vision for an online world accessed through AR and VR technologies where people can meet, work and socialise.

“As Nick takes on this new leadership role, it will enable me to focus more of my energy on leading the company as we build new products for the future, and it will support Sheryl as she continues to focus on the success of our business,” Zuckerberg wrote in his post.

Sandberg said of the politician-turned-corporate policymaker that “his calm and principled leadership will continue to be an asset for Meta” as the company prepares to weather regulatory storms.

“The next few years will be a crucial time for our company and our industry as new rules for the internet are written all over the world, and as we set out on our journey to help build the metaverse,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

News of Clegg’s appointment came a day after Meta unveiled its updated its company values.

Nick Clegg at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Image: Moritz Hager/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic