Facebook has been in an uproar over the past few weeks, which the meetings were held to quell. The tumult began after The Wall Street Journal published a series of articles last month that showed Facebook knew about the harms of its services, including teenage girls saying that Instagram made them feel worse about themselves. The articles were based on a trove of Facebook documents, which were leaked by an unidentified whistle-blower.
The revelations immediately set off a wave of criticism from regulators and lawmakers, many of whom moved swiftly to call the company to account. As scrutiny mounted, Facebook delayed the Instagram service for children. On Thursday, Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, was questioned for more than two hours by lawmakers about the mental and emotional toll its services could take on kids.
Inside Facebook, top executives have been engulfed by the crisis, with the fallout spreading through parts of the company and disrupting its “Youth Group,” which oversees research and development for children’s products like Messenger Kids, according to interviews with a dozen current and former employees, who were not authorized to speak publicly.
To navigate the controversy, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg have approved decisions on how to respond but have deliberately kept out of the public eye, said two people with knowledge of the meetings. The company has leaned on its “Strategic Response” teams, which include communications and public relations employees.