New York: Facebook Inc. shares dropped following a New York Times report that the social media company allowed more than 150 companies access to more users’ personal data than it had disclosed.

Facebook shares were down 1.3 per cent in pre-market trading at 6.45am in New York on Wednesday. Other major tech stocks were trading up by just under 1 per cent.

According to the report, the social network had allowed Microsoft Corp’s Bing search engine to see names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, and allowed other companies to read Facebook users’ private messages.

Steve Satterfield, Facebook’s director of privacy and public policy, told the Times none of the partnerships violated users’ privacy, or a 2011 agreement with the US Federal Trade Commission to require explicit permission from members before sharing their data.

In a statement published on its website on Wednesday, Facebook said its partnerships or features did not give companies access to information without people’s permission.

“Throughout our engagement with Facebook, we respected all user preferences,” a Microsoft spokesman said in a statement.

Shares of Facebook are down almost 20 per cent for the year to date.

Although all of the so-called FAANG stocks — an acronym that refers to Facebook, Apple Inc., Inc., Netflix Inc., and Google-parent Alphabet Inc. — were volatile throughout 2018, the social network is the group’s worst performer in 2018, fuelled by fears of regulation over issues surrounding user data, misinformation, and privacy.

The Menlo Park, California-based company has been under fire since it learnt earlier this year that personal information was transferred by an app developer to Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The company has spent the year trying to update its security and answer questions about the scandal from US lawmakers and overseas policymakers.

In the process it’s been hit with fines in the UK, admitted to the theft of intimate data from millions of users, and hired Nick Clegg, Britain’s former deputy prime minister, to run its lobbying efforts.