Your personality and behaviours can be mapped and predicted with just 5000 data points. More than that, the way in which to influence you and change your behaviour (such as who you vote for) can be calculated and implemented (via platforms such as Facebook). None of this is particularly farfetched – human beings are far less sophisticated than our egos like to think. Yet, to watch it being carried out is hugely disturbing and unsettling. It makes you doubt if democracy actually operates anywhere in the world anymore. We like to think it does, but maybe we’ve simply been programmed to think that.
The Great Hack is a documentary-movie on Netflix that tells the story of how Cambridge Analytica (CA) nicked personal data from Facebook, identified the most vulnerable amongst us (‘the persuadables’) and then targeted them during both the US presidential election of 2016 and during the Brexit vote. It very much appears that CA swung the votes in favour of Trump and Leave.EU.
The Great Hack follows the story of one IT professor who simply demanded to know what data CA were keeping on him. And the story of two ex-CA-employees who’d retrospectively had an attack of conscience and wanted to make some sort of amends by exposing the ‘truth’.
This documentary-movie is almost a dystopian horror… except it’s just real life. Yikes. You will certainly feel sickened when watching it. You will wonder why some of the facts revealed in the movie didn’t appear in the UK press. You will wonder if you were influenced/manipulated by CA. You will wonder how we can switch off the machine. Or can we never put that genie back in the bottle.
It’s not a perfect piece of film-making, by any means, and you may not trust a word that of what many of the talking heads say. But it’s certainly a hugely thought-provoking watch, and one to discuss with everyone you know. Very much recommended (if it’s not going to give you an insurmountable degree of anxiety). 8/10