Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Picture: REUTERS
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Picture: REUTERS

Facebook’s second-biggest outside investor has offered backing for the world’s largest social media company as it faces public criticism over what people see on its service and how much user information is shared with third parties.

Comments by Fidelity Contrafund’s Will Danoff, who like other top mutual fund managers rarely voices an opinion about a holding, represent key support for management as some investors seek change at Facebook, but also drew criticism that he should take a tougher line.

In a commentary e-mailed on Monday by the Boston fund firm, Danoff said Facebook, his fund’s largest position, "confronted some stiff headwinds" in the first six months of 2018.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was hauled before US Congress in April to explain how data belonging to 87-million users was shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, and why it ran adverts and posts placed by Russian operatives in what US authorities believe was an attempt to influence the 2016 election.

"Facebook management responded thoroughly to legislators’ concerns and implemented a comprehensive plan to uphold the trustworthiness of its digital communities," Danoff said in a question-and-answer portion of the commentary, which was dated June 30 and included in a "Fidelity Investment Insights" e-mail on Monday.

Facebook’s failure to protect users’ data and to police some misleading content has caused some shareholders to call for change at the company.

Activists put several reforms up for votes at Facebook’s annual meeting in May, including calls for a risk committee and a report on content. None gained a majority of votes, but Facebook later gave a board committee new risk oversight responsibilities.

Reuters