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Facebook taps D.C. office head to manage global policy

Facebook's D.C. office head, Joel Kaplan, will become the company's global VP of public policy. (Photo by: Eric Thayer/Reuters)
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Facebook announced Monday that Joel Kaplan, who is based out of the firm's growing D.C. office, will become the social network's Vice President of Global Policy, a position created to manage growing interest from foreign and domestic lawmakers over privacy, copyright and security issues.

Kaplan, currently the vice president of U.S. Public Policy, succeeds Marne Levine, who will be moving over to Instagram to be its first chief operating officer. A Facebook spokeswoman said the company made the announcement to employees at its Silicon Valley headquarters.

Kaplan, a former senior aide in the George W. Bush White House, was tapped to lead the company's Washington office in 2011. At the time, Kaplan's hire was seen as a way to shore up Facebook support from Republicans, though Facebook has gone on to tap Hill talent from both sides of the aisle as it works to increase its policy profile. The office currently has around 50 employees.

Kaplan will remain based in Washington; his replacement has not yet been announced. In his new role, Kaplan will be in charge of working with governments and non-profits across the world to explain Facebook policies and products. Levine has held the position since it was first created in 2010. Under her tenure, Facebook --  like many other technology companies -- has fielded concerns about privacy and use of consumer data from the U.S. government and the European Commission. 

Last week, Facebook also got approval from the European Commission to close its acquisition of WhatsApp, the messaging service it announced it would purchase for $19 billion in February. U.S. regulators approved the acquisition in April; the firm officially closed the deal Monday.

Levine, who came to Facebook from the Obama administration, will relocate to California for her new position, where she faces the challenge of scaling up Instagram to meet demand. Instagram currently has 150 employees and approximately 200 million users.

Growing Instagram is one of the company's greatest challenges; Levine also has a background in the product space, having managed a payments service before coming to Facebook.

She will be in charge of partnerships, business operations, marketing and monetization. In a statement, Instagram chief executive Kevin Systrom said, "Marne will play a key role in setting up the company for our next stage of growth."