“The Great Hack” – Like it, Share it, Learn from it.

by Lauryn Cantrell

‘Likes’ exceed oil in value. Netflix’s newest documentary examines the wealth of data and the price users pay for privacy (or lack thereof).

Have you been manipulated by social media? Has your data been collected to build profiles for companies? Have you been vulnerable to influence? Yes, you believe yourself to be sharp and savvy, but perhaps your most personal details have been lost. Do you even know…(yet)?

Courtesy of Netflix

Out today on Netflix, The Great Hack explains how social media like Facebook — a tool intended to connect the world — has overstepped its boundaries. And most importantly, the film makes an eye-opening case on why you should care. Directed by Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, The Great Hack explores how information and preferences are collected, analyzed and returned through targeted messaging and “suggestions.”  It does this through documenting the fall of Cambridge Analytica, the so-called “behavior change agents,” along with the events that led up to the 2016 election scandal, and offers a hint at what may come next.

Marking the premiere of the film on the streaming service is a private screening on Capitol Hill and panel to discuss privacy, political micro-targeting and online radicalization with moderator Natasha Bertrand, National Correspondent for Politico and MSNBC Contributor; as well as Shoshana Zuboff, author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism”, Karen Kornbluh, Director, Digital Innovation & Democracy Initiative, The German Marshall Fund and Emerson T. Brooking, Fellow at Digital Forensic Research Lab, Co-Author “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media.”

The Great Hack follows David Carroll, professor of media design at Parsons, who has just filed claims against Cambridge Analytica to access information collected about him. In the film opening, he asks his students if, “they ever feel as if their microphone is listening in on them?” It’s that crazy feeling of thinking of something, then immediately seeing it on their social media feed. The phenomena, he says, isn’t in their head. It’s the result of software developed to harvest information from profiles of more than 50 million Facebook users.

Courtesy of Netflix

Explaining the repercussions of the software and data breach are Carole Cadwalladr of The Guardian who broke the story, whistleblower and ex-Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie, and the savvy Brittany Kaiser who uses her previous role with the company to advocate for ownership of private data.

Get ready for some stunning revelations about data collection. Fair warning, don’t be surprised to notice similar suggestions in your social feed.

And next time, read the Terms & Conditions.

The Great Hack is available now on Netflix | Not rated | Running time: 1 hr 53 min. 

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