When lawmakers scrutinize Facebook Inc.’s research on teens Thursday, it won’t be CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg or the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, in the hot seat. It’ll be a relatively low-profile executive named Antigone Davis.
Ms. Davis, a former middle-school teacher who spent a decade working for Maryland’s attorney general, has been Facebook’s global head of safety for the last seven years. In her role, she helps shape Facebook’s policies around child exploitation, revenge porn and self-harm.
In 2017, Ms. Davis was tasked with defending the company’s Messenger Kids chat app, which allows children ages 6 to 12 to message with parental controls. Many academics and child-safety advocates said this age group wasn’t ready for social media.
At the time, Ms. Davis told reporters that kids this age were already using devices and parents wanted to monitor who their kids spoke to online, similar to in-person playdates. She added Facebook had no plans to launch a kids version of Instagram.
In prepared remarks for Thursday’s hearing, Ms. Davis said Facebook is committed to the “safety and well-being of the youngest people who use our services.”
“This work includes keeping underage users off our platform … and partnering with product teams to address serious issues like child exploitation, suicide and self-harm, and bullying,” according to a copy of the remarks reviewed by the Journal.
Ms. Davis said the internal research cited by the Journal was conducted “to inform internal conversations about teens’ most negative perceptions of Instagram.”
“Our research showed that many teens who are struggling say that Instagram helps them deal with many of the hard issues that are so common to being a teen,” according to the prepared remarks.
In a 2016 speech in New York, she cited Facebook’s tools designed to help prevent suicides and other harms, tearing up as she recalled a friend who had died by suicide.