Mark Zuckerberg is a political lightning rod. Facebook is raising a new target.

On Wednesday, the company took its biggest step towards achieving that goal when it promoted Nick Clegg, a former British politician, to president of global affairs. It’s a stance that should make Clegg Meta’s public face to policy makers around the world.

In the new role, Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook postClegg will be responsible for “all of our policy matters, including how we interact with governments when they consider adopting new policies and regulations, as well as how we publicly defend our products and work.”

By design, the work will place Clegg at the center of a political maelstrom that has been brewing for years – which so far has focused in the extreme on Zuckerberg.

Naturally, this will allow the more public faces of the business to take a step back. Zuckerberg wrote that the move would allow him “to focus my energy more on leading the business as we build new products for the future.” And like Kurt Wagner from Bloomberg News reportedit’s a move that will mean “less involvement in future policy decisions for the CEO and COO Sheryl Sandberg.”

While serving as the public face of the company to policymakers, Zuckerberg has come under historical scrutiny. Zuckerberg has testified before Congress more times than many of his fellow tech CEOs combined, as we reported last year. These frequent appearances contributed to making him particularly reviled by politicians. Capitol Hill lawmakers took the rare step of asking him to resign. Some have suggested that he should face a prison sentence to mislead users about Facebook’s privacy practices and has crafted legislation around the idea.

“Outside of Microsoft in the ’90s and what Bill Gates was…Mark certainly took the brunt of the criticism from people,” said Facebook’s former director of public policy. Katie Harbath said.

She added: “The mere mention of his name, I think, makes people really angry…in a way that I can’t even see. [with] other CEOs.

And even though Meta’s biggest peers like Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have doubled and even tripled the value of parent company Facebook, the name politicians most often utter when bashing the tech industry has remained. Zuckerberg.

As with the company’s recent renaming, in elevating Clegg, Meta may be looking to distance itself from its past scandals, which have largely revolved around Zuckerberg and his decisions.

And by promoting Clegg to the highest political level, Harbath said, Facebook could be trying to change some public officials’ perception that the blame ultimately lies with Zuckerberg.

It’s a problem that has sometimes made it harder to get “high-level meetings,” she said, because some managers insist on seeing only C-suite level executives. (Legislators have often referred to as Zuckerberg to testify and the company’s rejected offers to send other representatives.)

“It elevates [Clegg] to a place where I think it can take a few more of these meetings [and] also probably witness a bit more,” she said. “They’re trying, I think, to show the world too that if you get Nick, that’s the equivalent of getting a Mark or a Sheryl.”

But the success of this strategy may depend on whether public leaders believe Clegg has enough authority to have a meaningful impact on corporate decision-making.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) says he is skeptical. “As long as Mark Zuckerberg keeps his grip on Meta’s voting stock, he bears the blame for Facebook’s many failures. … Until it cedes control, I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that Meta is doing the right thing for users, instead of continuing to fill its own wallet,” Wyden told The Technology 202.

Based on the dismissive reactions from policymakers to the Meta rebranding, it’s likely going to be a tough sell.

Democratic lawmakers have called on the FTC to ‘protect children in the metaverse’

The Federal Trade Commission should monitor the issue and use its authority to protect children who use virtual reality technology, Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) noted in a letter with Reps. Catherine Beaver (D-Fla.) and Lori Trahan (D-Mass.). Under the chairmanship of the FTC Lina KhanThe commission has already taken note of Zuckerberg’s Metaverse ambitions, arguing in its enhanced antitrust complaint against Facebook that the company would likely engage in anti-competitive practices as tech companies increasingly turn to new technologies like the Metaverse.

Children seem to be among the earliest users of Facebook’s Horizon Worlds VR app despite not being allowed on the platform, my colleague Will Oremus written this month. This could inadvertently make the platform a hunting ground for sexual predators, experts say. Kristina Milian, a spokesperson for Facebook’s parent company, Meta, told Will that the company’s goal “is to make Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues safe, and we’re committed to doing that job.” The company did not respond to questions about whether it had received any reports of child exploitation on the app and declined to say whether it had taken steps to protect children from grooming and abuse. sexual exploitation.

Clearview AI says it’s on track to collect 100 billion face photos in a year

The controversial facial recognition company is positioning itself for a major expansion – an expansion that will be funded largely by government contractors and taxpayers that its systems would be used to monitor, Drew Harwell reports. Drew got a financial presentation from the company that says $50 million in investor money could help fund more data collection, new products, a bigger international sales team, and more spending to lobby investors. policy makers to “develop favorable regulation”.

Clearview AI built its image database by taking photos from social media sites and other websites without the consent of those websites or the people photographed. Major sites like Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube demanded that Clearview stop collecting photos and delete those that had been taken previously. The company argued that its data collection is protected by the First Amendment.

California lawmakers propose legislation to make kids safer online

The bill is inspired by UK regulations which aim to automatically give children a “built-in basis of data protection”. Cat Zakrzewski reports. One of the legislators who introduced the bill, the California Assembly buffy wicks (D), told Cat the bill could have ripple effects across the country if passed.

“If you have European standards and California standards, chances are you follow those standards even in other parts of the country,” said Wicks, who previously worked for Common Sense Media, a group that advocated for more protection of children online. .

The legislation came as Washington lawmakers presented their own proposal. Bill of the Senses. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) “Would require online platforms to provide parents and minors under 16 with ‘easy-to-use’ tools to keep them safe, limit the smuggling of screen time and protect their data,” writes Cat.

People think of Facebook when it comes to Google’s planned overhaul of ad tracking on Android phones. The Wall Street Journal Joanna Stern:

Morning Brewery Josh Sternberg:

Mobile development memo Eric Seufert theorized who is one of the winners of the ad:

  • Alondra Nelsondeputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will serve as the acting director of OSTP until a new director is appointed, Tyler Pager reports.
  • Former US Ambassador to South Korea Marc Lippert joins Samsung Electronics America as Public Affairs Manager for North America effective March 1.
  • More than 100 start-ups, organizations and investors Recount Capitol Hill leaders preserve tax break for startup stocks.
  • twenty one groups urged Congress to immediately reconcile the CHIPS Act and send it to President Biden’s office for his signature. They also want Congress to pass a “strengthened” proposal for tax credits for semiconductor investments.
  • The Atlantic Council hosts an event on European data policy today at 11:30 a.m.
  • International Antitrust Authorities and FTC Commissioners Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson to speak at the 25th Annual George Mason Law Review Antitrust Conference symposiumwhich takes place from Monday to Friday.
  • The showrunners and executive producers of “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber” speak at a Washington Post Live event on Tuesday at 3 p.m.

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