PALO ALTO--Facebook has moved to bolster its public affairs capabilities in the face of increasing government scrutiny of its privacy practices, hiring former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart to its communications team.

Lockhart, who founded heavyweight Washington DC public affairs firm Glover Park Group after leaving the Clinton White House in 2000, becomes VP of global communications. He will report to Elliot Schrage, Facebook VP of global communications, marketing and public policy.

Lockhart will oversee Facebook’s international, corporate and policy communications. His arrival comes as the US lawmakers step up their probes into internet privacy and freedom, policy areas that the social networking giant will be hoping to significantly influence. This week, for example, a privacy group filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook’s new facial recognition service.

"Joe's arrival brings new skills and greater depth to our incredibly busy team," said Schrage 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.”

Lockhart’s appointment also follows an embarrassingly high-profile episode that saw Facebook enlist Burson-Marsteller to try and plant negative stories about rival Google.

He joins a growing roster of political veterans at Facebook. In addition to Schrage, who previously worked at Google and the Council of Foreign Relations, Facebook also counts Marna Levine, former chief of staff to National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers on its staff, and former George W. Bush deputy chief of staff Joel Kaplan.

Lockhart, a veteran of political campaigns, served as senior advisor to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid. He also worked as national press secretary for the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign, deputy press secretary for the 1988 Dukakis-Bentsen campaign, and assistant press secretary for the 1984 Mondale-Ferraro campaign.

In addition, Lockhart brings considerable consultancy experience. Glover Park has grown into one of the country's most successful public affairs firms, and Lockhart also previously worked as an EVP at Bozell Sawyer Miller.