If you’ve heard about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and are in some way aware of the repercussions of epidemic social media usage, then the documentary will not teach you anything new (i.e Bolsonaro). It will however slap you very hard in the face and help keep you from sliding back into the social media coma.
The true value of the documentary hinges on the narrative perspective. It shows an insider view of predominantly one former employee of Cambridge Analytica who has set herself on a path of redemption by becoming a whistle blower on the company.
One particularly shocking bit of information is how Cambridge Analytica worked with University of Cambridge neruoscientist Aleksander Kogan to create a questionnaire that through its use allowed Cambridge Analytica to scrape data from the personal profiles of friends and sometimes private messages. I had no idea this was how they did it. And it’s just plain psychopathy.
From Cnet’s coverage on the topic:
“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on [March 21, 2018] said Kogan’s app was installed by 300,000 people, giving Kogan access to their friends’ data, too. According to The New York Times, the total number of Facebook users affected could be more than 50 million.
It was all possible because Facebook allowed software developers to create apps that could collect information on a user’s entire network of friends.”
This style of data collection then led to a strategy to affect the 2016 Trump election. The company identified a particularly persuadable type of personality, which they coined the Persuadables. These personalities were targeted via the online questionnaire and in turn had the data of their friends scraped. Cambridge Analytica were then able to analyse the data and determine the most effective marketing strategies and materials to use to manipulate these people into voting for Trump. David Carroll sums it up by saying “in the United States, only about 70,000 voters in three states decided the election” (The Great Hack 01:21:30).
Blurb of The Great Hack from their website:
“Data has surpassed oil as the world’s most valuable asset. It’s being weaponized to wage cultural and political warfare. People everywhere are in a battle for control of our most intimate personal details. From award-winning filmmakers Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, THE GREAT HACK uncovers the dark world of data exploitation with astounding access to the personal journeys of key players on different sides of the explosive Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data scandal.”