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Meta’s Russia Problem Is Up to Nick Clegg, Not Mark Zuckerberg, to Solve

Just days after the U.K.’s former deputy prime minister became the company’s president of global affairs, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine presented him with his first major test.


Photographer: Jessica Chou for Bloomberg Businessweek
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Shortly after Russian troops invaded his country in February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy sent separate letters to Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. He wanted them to block Russia’s state-backed media outlets from posting to Facebook in Ukraine; he also asked that they cut off Facebook and Instagram in Russia itself.

Neither Zuckerberg nor Sandberg responded. Instead, Zelenskiy heard from Nick Clegg, Britain’s former deputy prime minister, who’s worked the past three years as a high-ranking executive at Meta. Clegg, who spent his political career as a Liberal Democrat, had talked to Zelenskiy several months earlier, on a video chat in which the Ukrainian president pitched him and Sandberg on opening an office in the country. Now, Clegg told Zelenskiy that Meta would block Russian media in Ukraine but would not stop operating in Russia, arguing its services helped people there organize protests and get reliable information.