Director: Karim Amer, Jehane Noujaim
With: Brittany Kaiser, Alexander Nix, Carole Cadwalladr, Damian Collins, Julian Wheatland, David Carroll.
Release Date: Jul 24, 2019
Internet is a great thing. It has so many uses and so many bright sides to it. And with the invent of internet we have got so many social media applications. They allow us to connect to our friends within the comfort / security of our home. To those long lost friends whom we haven’t met and even if we want to we cant meet due to distance / time. These barriers were somehow removed by these applications. We came to know that some of them got married / some of them landed a great job / some of them entered parent hood. It allowed us to join them in their happiness and also share our happiness with them. Whether they want to indulge themselves was up to them.
But while doing this we opened ourselves to the world / data-miners. While we first created our profile we were supposed to put up some of our facts in it and we thought “I am an honest law abiding citizen. What I have got to hide?” And some of us put all of our original data in them. Our name, birth date,status,job,company,city,family etc etc. One of the best app that emerged is the Facebook. It was simple and fast and completely clutter free. It was free and promised to be free always so what was the harm ? Also there were no ads as Mark Zuckerberg and team were fixated on getting Billion Dollars rather then the Million Dollars. The wall was filled with stories of our friends and relatives .This enabled it to move ahead of a lot of other applications such as Orkut and became a dominant force on the IOT spectrum.
The great hack is not about these positive sides of the social network. It is about the negative one. “Data rights are human rights” is the rallying cry of this movie.Facebook has become such a dominant force that it claims to have 5000 data points on each of its users. And there are literally billions of them in each and every country where it operates. This enables it to become the go to site for companies like Cambridge Analytica to set up shop and start campaigning for the presidential elect such as Donald Trump. They call themselves a behavior change agency. And in quite literal sense they are blamed for Donald trump’s rise as USA president and Britain’s Brexit campaign. They used the data available on these engines and ran millions of customized ad to manufacture a verdict in their favor. They are so specifically designed for each and every user based on his/her profile that he/she is supposed to get convinced by these ads. One mind blowing fact is there were 5.9 million ad campaigns run for Donald Trump on Facebook compared to 66,000 for Hillary Clinton. The genius of these campaigns is that they make their points to be the part of your subconscious mind which is not in our control. Verdict gets delivered subconsciously.
And you have a new way to get your desired outcome. We are told that when we were promised that our data/ privacy is secure in a single sentence, our trust was betrayed and we were commoditised. Democracy is hijacked.
Stories of some of the characters is intertwined with this movie due to their relationship with Cambridge Analytica. David Carroll who sues Cambridge Analytica to identify the data points on him ; Guardian reporter Carole Cadwalladr who went after them to do her job and how doctored videos of her tried to sway her away from her duty ; Paul holder who is a political technologist and Brittany Kaiser, a self proclaimed whistle blower who also worked with Alexander Nix (CEO of Cambridge Analytica) during his work for Obama campaign and is a close confidante of the main villain of this movie. Her is the role that is not completely convincing as she was very much an accomplice while dance of the democracy was going on. And may go down along with others due to her active role in it.
Alexander Nix is so convincing in his testimony that you question the whole point of making this movie. Felt that the logic which he is presenting is not wrong at all. Isn’t marketing for a company also very similar where you highlight all the strengths and hide the weaknesses? And if he did that for the people who hired him what is wrong in that ? Aren’t we supposed to be aware about the various sponsored content and the motivation behind those ads when we open these social media sites? There are people from the masses who are aware of it but the campaigns are for those are uninitiated and are gullible to be swayed either way by these doctored and misinforming contents. And theirs is the highest number which matter the most for delivering a result.
The overall story telling is good with decent camera work. Mainly the beginning where world is a giant pixel board and we all emanate/alter those pixels as we are all part of this giant data network. Sometimes it is slow but drives home a lot of points. When I was watching it I couldn’t help but remember about the Snowden which showed the life story of the protagonist who worked for CIA and blew the whistle on Obama administration’s citizen surveillance program. Should citizens blame only likes of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica while even Government agencies are harping on your privacy ?
Some of your private moments might not be your own as your laptop cameras and your microphones can be hacked in the name of security. But how can they hack if manufacturers haven’t left a room for it. Do the manufacturers , government and certain power agencies run hand in hand to rule the common populace to make them bend as per their will? Even with this vigilantism how can you be sure that the perpetrators will be punished if an invisible hand is guiding them behind the scenes as we watch a giant drama unfold ? And they might pop up again with a new name and a new face to shape our lives as per their whims. Welcome to the connected world of internet.
Netflix ; YouTube, Wikepedia , Variety,Common sense Media, Rolling Stone, IMDB.com, theverge.com, apnews.com, mycitybynight.co.za.