Facebook has hired former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart as the company’s vice president of global communications. Lockhart, 51, is best known for having served as press secretary to President Clinton during the era of his impeachment trail from 1998 to 200; Lockhart will move to California from Washington DC to take on his new role in mid-July.
Bringing Lockhart on board is just the latest in a string of Washington insiders Facebook has hired in an apparent effort to make the company savvier at negotiating the relationships and nuances of federal regulation and politics. Facebook recently hired two former aides of President George W. Bush as lobbyists—former Bush deputy chief of staff Joel Kaplan is the company’s VP of policy in Washington—and industry reports had the social networking giant approaching former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs about a position.
Lockhart founded the communications firm the Glover Park Group, and served as a broadcast journalists on Sky TV, NBC, and CNN.
Facebook has faced repeated criticism over privacy mis-steps, ranging from overly-complicated settings, sharing users’ personal data with advertisers to (more recently) automating face-detection in photos. Facebook’s approach to privacy has almost always been to automatically enable data sharing features for all its users, only enabling them to opt out at a later time—as a result, the company has become a big target of public policy officials and consumer advocates. With the company preparing to float an initial public offering, Facebook is apparently gearing up its Washington staff to make sure the company’s concerns and operations are represented to lawmakers and regulators in the best possible light.