Facebook announced that it hired Joe Lockhart, former press-secretary for Bill Clinton as its new Vice President of Global Communications. Lockhart became the third Washington insider to be hired by Facebook for the latest two months. In May Facebook hired two other officials who used to work for George W. Bush, including Joel Kaplan, who served as Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff.
Elliot Schrage, Facebook Vice President of Global Communications, Marketing and Public Policy said in his statement: “Joe’s arrival brings new skills and greater depth to our incredibly busy team. 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.”
Facebook is the world’s No. 1 Internet social network with more than 500 million people. It has grown in influence in the Internet industry as well as in the spheres of public policy and world affairs during its seven-year history.
The service is supposed to have been playing a key role in recent uprisings in the Middle East, helping protesters in organizing and communicating. Facebook is also increasingly criticized for its privacy practices. Some privacy advocates attack the way it treats users’ personal information.
Lockhart served as the 22nd White House Press Secretary from August 1998 to September 2000. He defended President Clinton during the impeachment trials (the Lewinsky scandal was gaining steam when he occupied his post). Lockhart was press secretary during the Elián González affair. He was brought on to the John Kerry presidential campaign as a senior advisor in September 2004.
Lockhart comes to Facebook from a communications firm he co-founded, the Glover Park Group, which specializes in political and media strategy. Before shifting to full-time politics, he worked in the advertising agency world serving high-profile clients like Coca-Cola. Even earlier in his career, he was a television reporter for networks including CNN and ABC.
Lockhart will replace former Facebook Director of Corporate Communications Brandee Barker. Barker started her own consulting firm for early-stage companies and left Facebook late last year. It was reported that Facebook was in talks with former Barack Obama’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, but apparently those talks fell apart.
Joe Lockhart will officially start his work in Facebook as Vice President of Global Communications on July 15. Now he resides in Washington, D.C. with his daughter Clare, but he will move to California “as soon as family commitments allow.” [via Reuters and Mashable]