If you are reading this, then you probably witnessed the 2016 elections. The Great Hack is a documentary that you shouldn’t miss because it tells the terrifying story of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and how innocent Facebook posts and memes have compromised our democracy.
“We became obsessed with trying to bring the POV of the algorithm to life,” says co-director Karim Amer, according to Wired. “How does the algorithm see us? If we could create a perspective for that algorithm, then we could help people understand how our own fragility and the superstructure that exists around us, and how it’s constantly sucking and collecting your behavior.”
This documentary is a must-see for everyone that owns a social media account, a Facebook profile, or any other form of digital footprint. If you haven’t seen the documentary yet, probably you are wondering what is the Cambridge Analytica, who are Brittany Kaiser and Alexander Nix, and what has this all had to do with the Brexit referendum in the UK and the election of President Trump?
Here’s what you need to know.
Alexander Nix, the former CEO described it as a “data-driven communications company.” The documentary tells the story of how Cambridge Analytica used data from Facebook users without their knowledge or consent to know better their audience and design the best ways to reach them.
Cambridge Analytica worked on the presidential campaign of Donald Trump in 2016 and has also influence in other political campaigns around the world including Thailand )1997), Trinidad and Tobago (2009), India (2010), Colombia (2011), Italy (2012), Malaysia (2013), and Argentina (2015).
The former COO/CFL of the Cambridge Analytica, Julian Wheatland said that the company is an “environment of great innovation.” He also said that its CEO, Alexander Nix was “very focused on building a strong elections business” that has successfully used digital campaigns and data to create a “market opportunity” that provided services to the Republican politicians in the USA.
Having collected an enormous amount of data, they joined Trump’s campaign and we all know the end result. Moreover, the company claims they have 5,000 data points on every American that they can use to predict their personality and what drives their behavior which influences how they vote.
He was a data scientist who now decided to speak against his former employers. He said that Cambridge Analytica is “a full-service propaganda machine” and claims that it was Steve Bannon’s weapon to remold society.
He revealed how Aleksandr Kogan developed an app that collects data from millions of Facebook users via a “personality test.” “If you were a friend of somebody who used the app, you’d have no idea that I just pulled all your data,” Wylie explained. The app extended to likes, status updates, and even private text messages which were used to create the psychological profiles of the USA population.
Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg said that his greatest concern has always been his “social mission” but he also confessed that “it’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well.”
She is one of Cambridge Analytica’s key players. She explains that they didn’t target every American voter equally. “The bulk of our resources went into targeting those whose minds we thought we could change. We called them the ‘persuadables’,” she said.
The creative team then created “personalized content” in order to trigger those individuals. “We bombarded them through blogs, websites, articles, videos, ads, every platform you can imagine. Until they saw the world the way we wanted them to… Until they voted for our candidate.”
The conclusion? In this digitalized world it seems that Pandora’s Box has finally been opened.