Facebook Brings In Former Clinton Press Secretary Amid Growing Scrutiny Of Privacy Practices

Joe Lockhart

Photo: AP

Facebook has hired Joe Lockhart, who handled former President Bill Clinton’s turbulent second term media campaign, including his impeachment hearings, in a move to beef up its team amid growing scrutiny for its privacy practices.The Palo Alto, Calif.-based social networking giant has hired Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, who will report to Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s current top spokesman, at a time when the social media firm is expected to file for an initial public offering and possibly make moves into China.

“His experience building and running a press office at the White House gives him particular appreciation for the demands of a global 24-hour news cycle and the challenges of responding effectively to intense scrutiny,” Schrage said.

The 51 year-old Lockhart will move from Washington to the social networks headquarters in California’s Silicon Valley, keeping his deep contacts inside the Beltway intact. In fact, Lockhart is the latest hiring with substantial D.C. insider experience to fortify the social network’s ranks as it navigates possibly turbulent times ahead.

The recent hiring of political heavyweights began last year when Facebook nabbed Marne Levine, former chief of staff to the National Economic Council, who joined fellow Democratic lobbyists Adam Conner, as well as Tim Sparapani, formerly of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The company’s current COO, Sheryl Sandberg, is also a former chief of staff to Larry Summers, the Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton.

Demonstrating a cross-party reach, the social network has packed its ranks with Republicans, too; its general council is Ted Ullyot, former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Facebook’s two most recent hires, both from the George W. Bush White House era, Joel Kaplan and Myriah Jordan, were added to help buttress the social network’s lobbying efforts and to strengthen congressional relations.

Lockhart, a former reporter, has experience representing tech titans like Microsoft and Yahoo at the Glover Park Group, a strategic communications firm based in Washington and New York he founded after leaving the White House.

The hiring comes just after as privacy groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook’s facial recognition service, which they believe was implemented without adequate user notice.

Controversies like this aren’t fading anytime soon, meaning Lockhart will hit the ground running next month when he starts.

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