On Wednesday, Ms. Sandberg met with top lawmakers, including those involved in the House investigation. On Thursday, she is to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Facebook has hired three crisis communications firms and has bought digital and newspaper ads — including full-page print ads in The New York Times and The Washington Post — to counter criticism of its role in the election. Google searches for “Russia” and “Facebook” often return ads bought by Facebook that link to explanations on its corporate website about the steps it is taking to cooperate with investigators.
In September, as lawmakers called for hearings, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, contacted top intelligence committee members in the House and Senate. Top lobbyists for the company, including Joel Kaplan and Erin Egan, have been in frequent meetings with lawmakers trying to explain the company’s case.
The Axios event was a last-minute addition to those public relations efforts, announced only to website staff members and Facebook employees just days before Ms. Sandberg’s appearance.
“Google and Facebook are facing a gathering perfect storm of political, regulatory and reputational risk,” said Arik Ben-Zvi, a lobbyist for Glover Park Group whose clients are competitors to the technology firms. “They are working hard to defuse that through modest tweaks to their technologies and policies. But the real issues stem from their underlying business models, so quick fixes are unlikely to make this all go away anytime soon.”