Nick Clegg – Meta’s head of policy and communications – gets a nice new title: he gets an upgrade from deputy director of global affairs to president of global affairs. The move appears to be less about elevating Clegg’s responsibilities and more about positioning him (rather than CEO Mark Zuckerberg or COO Sheryl Sandberg) at the center of Meta’s key policy decisions and interactions with governments.
“Over the past three years, Nick has addressed some of the most complex issues facing our company, including content policy, elections, the creation of the Oversight Board and more,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post announcing the move. “Nick will now lead our company on all our policy issues, including how we interact with governments as they consider adopting new policies and regulations, as well as how we publicly advocate for our products and work.”
Clegg’s communication and policy responsibilities for Meta will remain the same, Meta spokesperson Joel Kaplan tells me The edge. In his new role, he will report jointly to Zuckerberg and Sandberg, Meta’s Chief Operating Officer, rather than just to Sandberg. Clegg had previously worked as a politician in the UK and was Deputy Prime Minister from 2010 to 2015 before joining Facebook in 2018.
The move also appears to be intended to more completely shift Zuckerberg’s focus and responsibility for key policy decisions to Clegg, who had already done much of that work in the public eye. The goal is ostensibly to give Zuckerberg more time to build out Meta’s metaverse ambitions, while spending less time in front of congressional committees under fire over how Facebook does or doesn’t moderate content.
“As Nick takes on this new leadership role, it will allow 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 success of our company,” adds Zuckerberg.
Meta and its products — including Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram — have seen no shortage of controversy over policy decisions, with debates over how the company has dealt with things like misinformation about COVID-19, the mental health of younger Instagram users and the controversial decides to ban President Donald Trump from his platforms. Having a higher-level executive like Clegg who can serve as a public face in addressing these issues and reporting directly to Meta’s CEO and COO could help streamline some of that process, especially now that Meta is heading into a new election season in the US this fall.