Facebook hires former White House spokesman Joe Lockhart

Facebook on Tuesday hired former Clinton White House spokesman Joe Lockhart to its communications team, beefing up the Internet giant’s federal political and policy know-how as the company faces scrutiny over its on privacy practices.

Joe Lockhart, who served as press secretary during President Bill Clinton’s second term, will be vice president of global communciations.

Lockhart will be located at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters and report to Elliott Schrage, VP of global communications, marketing and public policy. Marne Levine, D.C.-based vice president of global policy, also reports to Schrage.

Lockhart adds to a growing roster of political veterans at Facebook, which seeks to improve its communications staff amid intense interest in the company’s global expansion and treatment of data shared by the site’s more than 600 million users. (Washington Post Co. chairman Donald E. Graham sits on Facebook's board of directors.)

Levine was chief of staff to former White House National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers. Last month, Facebook hired former George W. Bush deputy chief of staff Joel Kaplan to head its D.C. federal lobbying and policy shop. The Facebook office had just one employee in 2007 and now has a dozen on staff.

Lockhart’s “arrival brings new skills and greater depth to our incredibly busy team,” Schrage said in a statement. “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.”

Last March, Facebook was rumored to be courting former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs. That rumor fizzled, but the company has turned much attention to federal regulators.

Privacy groups this week filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook’s facial recognition service that critics say was rolled out without adequate notice to users.

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Cecilia Kang is a staff writer covering the business of media and entertainment.
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