Facebook. It's a daily component of (basically) all our lives.
It has everything you look for online. It allows you to stay in touch and share your best moments with friends, it delivers news to you faster than most news outlets do, and it keeps us nice and close to our favourite celebrities.
Though, with Facebook, it can be tricky to ensure your privacy.
Facebook is at the center of a privacy scandal this week, all thanks to a Canadian whistleblower who let us know about a major breach of privacy that could have affected over 50 million Facebook users.
Here's what happened
A former employee of Cambridge Analytica has come out and told the world that the company has breached privacy for millions of users to pull user data and influence voters.
Cambridge Analytica had apps on Facebook with special permissions to harvest data from the user using the apps, as well as their entire friend network.
Things such as status updates, likes and in some cases private messages were pulled by the app.
Cambridge Analytica then took the compromised Facebook data, used it to identify target voter groups and then designed targeted messages to influence opinion.
"We would know what kinds of messages you'd be susceptible to, and where you would consume that. Then how many times we'd need to touch you with that in order to change how you think about that. it is a full-service propaganda machine." - Christopher Wylie
What does this mean?
Well, Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and former chairman of Breitbart News Steve Bannon have all assisted in this compromise of private data for millions upon millions users.
British company SCL Group teamed up with right-wing banker Steve Bannon to create Cambridge Analytica, with Alexander Nix, who is the CEO of Cambridge Analytica.
"We presented ourselves as much more academic. Not to say that we weren't academic, but we needed to curate our presentation so we created this fake office ... besides the university to make it look like this is our Cambridge site. This is our Potemkin Cambridge office." Wylie.
App developer, Aleksandr Kogan, who was working at Cambridge University at the time, used his app thisismydigitallife to pull data he claimed was for academic purposes only. The app was a personality quiz, which prompted users for consent to give the app access to their, and their friends Facebook profiles.
You know the type of quiz I'm talking about, we've all used them. Kogan's app was used by 270,000 people - but with consent to friends lists,
Cambridge Analytica spent nearly $7M on the data collected by Kogan more than 50M raw profiles were pulled and matched with 30M with other records matching individual identities.
This all happened in 2015, and Kogan and Cambridge Analytica both assured that the data was wiped clean.
However, Christopher Wylie claims that he had recently seen hundreds of gigabytes of data still on the companies internal servers.
The Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 election. Steve Bannon, who then became Trump's chief strategist, was at the head of the Cambridge Analytica board.
The company helped the campaign identify voters to target with ads, and gave advice on how best to focus their approach with campaign stops and even things to say during speeches. The White House didn't respond to a request for comment.
Cambridge Analytica also has ties to political campaigns of Sen. Ted Cruz and presidential candidate Ben Carson.
To make matters worse, U.K. news company Channel 4 News has released a very telling exposé that filmed Nix bragging about entrapping politicians with sex workers and bribery tactics.
As of today, Mark Zuckerberg finally issued a (lengthy) statement regarding the privacy breach, and issues a deep apology alongside a timeline of events and taking (some) responsibility onto himself.
I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I'm responsible for what happens on our platform. I'm serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn't change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward. Mark Zuckerberg
Suddenly, from an outside perspective and coming from someone who is just learning about all of these facts, the sensibility behind Trump's 2016 presidential campaign gaining more and more momentum as it progressed makes a bit more sense.
Social media impacts us all on a daily basis, but if we are not careful with the technology we are sharing our details with, it can and will impact our decision making - this scandal is proof of that fact.
Facebook has seen a loss of over $1B in stock exchange because of this privacy breach.