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The lower-than-expected users and revenue shows that Chief Executive Zuckerberg's cash-producing machine may not be totally impervious to controversy.

Shares tumbled 20 percent subsequent to the company reporting its second-quarter earnings - after the market closed. The company held a almost $140 billion lead on Berkshire Hathaway, the sixth largest, at the end of trading on Wednesday. It would also wipe his $13.7 billion of gains for the year, leaving him with just less than $70 billion.

The disappointing results came after Facebook has been embroiled in a data scandal affecting millions of users. Revenue increased 42 percent to $13.2 billion, missing the $13.3 billion Wall Street consensus. In Europe, things were looking dicey as Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) lost 1 million users, sinking to 376 million monthly active users.

Even though Facebook's stock price had fallen nearly 10% in after-hours trading at one point due to a miss on revenue-albeit a narrow one-Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg opened the call just after 5 p.m. And the company told Wall Street the numbers won't get any better this year.

Facebook suffered a blow in China on Wednesday when regulators there withdrew their approval of a company innovation hub to support local startups, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing a person familiar with the matter. "This is a clear inflection point for Zuckerberg & Co.as the company's advertising fortress and MAU metrics still look "well intact" despite the massive potential headwinds caused by Cambridge and the overall privacy worries (GDPR) in Europe although challenges remain".

Ross Gerber, an analyst at Gerber Kawasaki, said the latest figures suggest that the tide may be turning for Facebook and other social networks.

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Facebook said it had 1.47 billion daily active users in June, compared with the 1.48 billion average of analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Net income attributable to Facebook shareholders rose to US$5.11 billion, or US$1.74 per share, in the second quarter ended June 30 from US$3.89 billion, or US$1.32 per share, a year earlier. The quarter marked the first time Facebook had missed analysts' revenue projections since 2015.

"As we have written about extensively, the advertising industry - and digital advertising no less - has limits to growth, which we think is the primary factor constraining Facebook's revenue opportunity", Wieser said in a note after the earnings.

After the earnings report, executives worked to explain the potential of Facebook's other properties, not just the main social network, to fuel growth.

Shares in Facebook plunged more than 20 percent in after-hours trading after the social network warned that it would be less profitable in the years ahead due to shifts in its ad business. They were also expecting 2.25 billion monthly active users for the quarter.

Zuckerberg said Wednesday that he was hopeful Facebook would be able to limit disinformation and fake accounts, and that the company was able to do so in elections this year in France, Mexico and Germany.