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Netflix’s The Great Hack review: Unraveling the Cambridge Analytica scandal but offering no solution

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Data privacy has become a calling cry for activists in today’s world and seeing how big tech giants such as Facebook and Google are handling your data, these activists do have a point. As the focus of user data misuse shifts from to the realms of politics, where a misinformation campaign targeting users based on their online searching habits changes the course of the 2016 elections, one must wonder how big of a problem are we dealing with here. The Great Hack, a documentary by Netflix which chronicles perhaps the biggest breach of user data in modern history, shows there’s lot to be worried about.

The Great Hack.

Cambridge Analytica came into the spotlight for mining data of 87 million US users for targeted ads and The Great Hack goes in great detail as to how that came about. Directors Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim go around documenting and questioning experts, journalists, ex-employees and whistleblowers to uncover the entire scandal.

The movie is centred mostly around David Carroll a professor who demands to see his data points collected by Cambridge Analytica,  Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr who had officially broken the Cambridge Analytica story and Brittany Kaiser, who is an ex-employee of CA.

(Also Read — Cambridge Analytica data scandal: Timeline of the year gone by shows Facebook has a lot to do)

While most of the things in The Great Hack are public knowledge thanks to a ton of articles covering the topic, the unique perspectives of these three central characters land a theme of shock at how deep this privacy breach goes.

Cambridge Analytica has been at the forefront of data gathering and behavioural change for a long time, as per the movie. CEO Alexander Nix has been portrayed as a man who kickstarted the Brexit campaign to serve as a petridish for what followed next with the US elections. The story changes perspectives often from Carole Cadwalladr recalling a smear campaign by leave.eu to Brittany Kaiser explaining, from somewhere in Thailand why she believes her safety is at risk.

The documentary follows the testimonials of Mark Zuckerberg and the role of Facebook in targeting users via Cambridge Analytica along with the EU hearing of Alexander Nix who says that he is the ‘victim’ of the constant attack on the company.

The motives of Brittany Kaiser, who declares herself to be a whistleblower, remain unclear throughout the movie even though she testifies against her former company. On being asked why she had chosen to work with Cambridge Analytica knowing that it dabbles in unsavoury methods of data collection, her answer was ‘for the money’.

The documentary, while highlighting, the important parts of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, fails to mention how does one avoid another data breach like this from happening. In my opinion, if the movies’ purpose was to shock the audience, it is a tad bit too late. The movie is a run-through for those who are not well-versed to the extent to which user data is being gathered for targeted ads. However, most people are oblivious to the fact if their data is being gathered or not unless it is private information

Watch this film for great direction and a step-by-step explanation on the scandal but don’t expect it change your view on data gathering.

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