Facebook's shares are dropping on Cambridge Analytica allegations

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"Their rebranding as "social media" is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense", he added.

He went on to claim that Facebook makes its money "exploiting and selling intimate details about the private lives of millions, far beyond the scant details you voluntarily post".

"We think this episode is another indication of systemic problems at Facebook", said Brian Wieser, analyst at New York-based brokerage Pivotal Research Group, which already has a "sell" rating on a stock that rose 60 percent previous year.

Cambridge Analytica was bankrolled to the tune of $15 million by USA hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, a major Republican donor.

In explaining its decision on Friday, the social media giant said the thisisyourdigitallife app was legitimate, but accused Kogan of subsequently violating Facebook's terms by passing the data on to SCL/Cambridge Analytica. The social network said it had removed the app in 2015 when it learned about the violation of its policies.

Wall Street has taken its first opportunity to weigh in on the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica revelation with Facebook falling on Monday morning. "It's time for Mark Zuckerberg to stop hiding behind his Facebook page", Collins said in a statement.

An affiliate of British firm Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), Cambridge Analytica has offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.

It also blocked University of Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan, the academic who created the app in question.

Whisteblower, Chris Wylie, took to Twitter to say his Facebook account has also been suspended.

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What does Cambridge Analytica do? .

Kogan did not reply to an emailed request for comment.

Wylie told The Observer that Cambridge Analytica harvested data from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million people and used it to conduct targeted political campaigns, which are thought to have contributed to the election of Trump and the Brexit vote. The New York Times reported on Saturday that the data was purchased to aid President Trump's 2016 campaign.

The firm had secured a $15 million investment from billionaire Robert Mercer - who supported the Trump campaign - and wooed Bannon with the promise of tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behaviour, it has been claimed.

Facebook Inc's shares fell more than 4 percent in premarket trading after media reports that a political consultancy that worked on President Donald Trump's campaign gained inappropriate access to data on 50 million Facebook users.

Reports in The Observer suggested that the information was used to target political advertising in the 2016 United States presidential election.

British officials are also investigating the firm in connection with the June 2016 European Union referendum.

Her shock was over how the personal data of 50 million Facebook users "could be so easily mishandled and used for political objective!", Jourova said.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, urged for an investigation of Cambridge Analytica and said Facebook must explain why it would provide private user information to a company with links to Russian Federation.

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