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Facebook To Assemble Global Team Of 'Diplomats'

Publication Date: 
May 23, 2011
Source: 
San Jose Mercury News
Author: 
Robert Iafolla

Fellow Andrew McLaughlin is quoted by Robert Iafolla of the San Jose Mercury News on the simliarities between Facebook's new global policy team, and the Google global policy team .

With 70 percent of its more than 600 million members outside the United States, Facebook is creating its own foreign service, hiring a network of ambassadors from India to Ireland to represent the Palo Alto-based social network with foreign governments and cultures.

Facebook's new global policy team will monitor the local political landscape and act as multilingual, TV-friendly communicators in countries and for cultures that, in many cases, have very different values and laws about privacy and personal communications than the U.S.

...

"Somebody forwarded me those (Facebook job) listings with a note: 'Look familiar?' " said Andrew McLaughlin, Google's director of global public policy from 2004 to 2009. "We did exactly that same thing."

McLaughlin, who left Google to become deputy chief technology officer in the Obama administration, and who now is at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society, said Google's policy directors abroad were sometimes able to defuse crises before they happened.

For example, when the Google Talk instant message product was designed to permanently store all conversations, the company's foreign policy staff warned that would cause privacy problems in Europe, McLaughlin said. Google's engineers redesigned Talk to include a mode that does not store conversations.

"Was it useful? Totally," McLaughlin said of Google's foreign policy staffers. "You literally build a foreign service for the company, people whose mission it is to represent the company outwardly, but also to translate the policy environment back into the company."