A glimpse into the terrifying world of social media manipulation

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While another Facebook-related controversy is once again circulating the news for all the wrong reasons, this is an excellent documentary that reminds us to be careful when using social media platforms.

28 October 2021, 15:10

Last modification: October 28, 2021, 03:14 PM

The big hack. Photo: Collected

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The big hack. Photo: Collected

A wide shot zooms in to the face of Brittany Kaiser, a former Cambridge Analytica executive, as she writes Cambridge Analytica on a fence and ties a string – which has a whistle on the end – above it. The scene goes black.

This is the opening scene of the Netflix documentary “The Great Hack”, based on the infamous Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

While another Facebook-related controversy is once again circulating the news for all the wrong reasons, this is an excellent documentary that reminds us to be careful when using social media platforms.

Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, the documentary explores how fake news can change the outcome of important events such as elections and political campaigns, which have a big impact on politics and business around the world.

The film stars Professor David Carroll, Brittany Kaiser and British investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr. All of them work on data control and defend data rights.

The trio attempt to explain and expose the work of Cambridge Analytica in the political environment of various countries, including the UK campaign for Brexit and the 2016 US elections.

Through archival footage, forensic testimonies, analysis, interviews and animations, the documentary reminds us how personal data has become an outlet for making profits and making propaganda on social media platforms.

The investigative documentary also explains topics such as data mining. It shows how voters become a target audience and how personal data has become a target for advertising campaigns.

The film also focuses on the rise and fall of Cambridge Analytica. The company claimed to have 5,000 data points on every US voter in the 2016 US election, mostly taken from Facebook.

This data was used by Ted Cruz’s campaign, and then, after Trump won the Republican nomination, it was funneled into the Trump campaign. The company used the same tactic during Brexit.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not new to controversy and is not accused of selling the data of millions of Facebook users for his own profit. He had sold data to Cambridge Analytica, which was a huge privacy breach.

“The Great Hack” received Emmy nominations in the “Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction” category and received several awards for its graphic work and animation.

The two-hour and 19-minute documentary is worth watching to get a feel for how data mining works, how to avoid fake news and, most importantly, how to be responsible while sharing personal data on social media. .


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