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In-house: Facebook appoints US State Department adviser as new GC

Social media giant Facebook has recruited Jennifer Newstead (pictured), a legal adviser to the US State Department, as its new general counsel (GC) after incumbent GC Colin Stretch announced his intention to leave last July.

Newstead was appointed a legal adviser to the State Department by President Donald Trump, with her new role likely to be just as challenging as Facebook faces increasing criticism for how it handles its data across its vast social network.

Prior to working for the State Department, Newstead worked in private practice as a partner at US firm Davis, Polk & Wardwell as well as working as a principal deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice. Newstead also served former US President George W. Bush, assisting in the drafting of the controversial Patriot Act. Stretch, meanwhile, remains at Facebook throughout the summer to assist in the transition period.

For Facebook, Newstead’s arrival comes as the company tries to navigate an expected influx of new regulation in regards to how social media companies manage content. Following the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand in March, Australian lawmakers implemented a new law that could see internet executives jailed if they do not take action to remove violent content. The UK government is also considering imposing sanctions on companies who fail to get a grip on terrorist content and content aimed at exploiting children.

Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said: ‘Jennifer is a seasoned leader whose global perspective and experience will help us fulfil our mission. We are also truly grateful to Colin for his dedicated leadership and wise counsel over the past nine years. He has played a crucial role in some of our most important projects and has created a strong foundation for Jennifer to build upon.’

Newstead’s appointment comes amid a busy period of recruitment in the in-house community, after a trio of moves last week saw Royal Mail, Sky and Deliveroo all make senior legal hires.