How Trump Bought The Presidency

"The Great Hack" the most important documentary of our time?

By Kayleigh Dray

July 26, 2019 "Information Clearing House" -  We are all, to some degree, aware of the shadowy connections between Cambridge Analytica (CA), the US election and Brexit. And we all know that CA did ‘something bad’ with our data. However, unless you have a degree in tech, it can be hard to understand why so many people believe that social media – specifically Facebook – is manipulating our opinions, our lives, and our society.

Thankfully, Netflix’s The Great Hack is here to help us understand how “the dream of a connected world” tore us apart.

The documentary – directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim – focuses on three principal characters. There’s British journalist Carole Cadwalladr, who famously exposed CA’s ties to the Trump and Brexit campaigns (and has been the target of much online harassment ever since). There’s New York professor and privacy campaigner David Carroll, who attempts to recover his stolen data from CA.

And then there’s former CA employee Brittany Kaiser, whose explosive testimony helped Cadwalladr to uncover the truth – and whose blurred role as victim/villain of the piece easily makes her one of The Great Hack’s most compelling characters. 


The opening scenes of The Great Hack make it very clear that the film aims to help us better understand how our data is being manipulated and essentially kept from us by Facebook. And it does so initially by disputing a popular conspiracy theory: that Facebook is somehow ‘listening’ to our conversations.

This is not the case, Carroll says, no matter how much it may feel as if it is. Instead, Facebook gives “any buyer direct access to [our] emotional pulse” because it allows them to monitor – and, subsequently, influence – our behaviour. How?


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