The Great Hack is a documentary film released on Netflix in 2019. It was directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim. The Great Hack reveals the dark world of data mining in the explosive Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal.
The documentary deals with the rise and fall of the data analysis company Cambridge Analytica and explains how the sale of Facebook data to Cambridge-Analytica influenced the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit campaign.
Cambridge Analytica unethically collected data from millions of Facebook users and used it to target vulnerable and impressionable voters to manipulate their political choices.
We still don’t have a clear picture of what Cambridge Analytica has done for Trump or in any of the dozens of global elections it claims to have worked on, much of the data is still unclear.
Manipulations and the trial
Brad Parscale, Trump’s digital director, was running between 50,000 and 60,000 ads a day during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and was using artificial intelligence on those ads, revealing that he was spending $1 million a week on Facebook ads.
There is so much we still don’t know about what Cambridge Analytica actually did. We only know that we are guinea pigs in a vast global online experiment.
The US authorities finally declared on 4 December 2019 that the British firm Cambridge Analytica had misled users of the social network Facebook about how it collected and processed their personal information. The social networking giant was fined a record $5 billion for its mismanagement of its users’ private data.
A new technology
Nobody really understands this technology, many are afraid of it or are blindly enthusiastic about it.
This technology continues and will continue to continue unabated. Given the speed at which it has progressed, there was bound to be a case like Cambridge Analytica. The Cambridge Analytica scandal was a defining moment, as it led to many revelations.
Indeed, every action is used to predict your motivations and behaviour. This data is extracted from our lives in a way that is systematically designed to be invisible. Indeed, even people who are frightened by strange advertising targeting, and who know that disinformation campaigns can and have eroded democracy, find it hard to imagine how it all works.
The movie’s objectives
Since the scandal broke, we have discovered that Facebook has been disclosing data everywhere for many years.
The Great Hack makes visible the normally invisible data of our daily lives and how it is collected and used against us.
Through thoughtful narration and emoji-inspired animations, Amer and Noujaim reveal the digital trash we leave in our wake every time we send an email, search for something on a search engine, linger over an ad, make a purchase or click “Like” on social media. This data trail is exploited against us, every day to sell us things, to get us to vote, to divide us.
What the documentary film tries to do through creative and unusual graphics is to make the invisible visible.