Film Review : : The GREAT HACK

Academic, David Carroll sued for return of his personal data (IMDB fair use)


Michelangelo’s David.  Photo by Yair Haklai, Wikimedia Commons


Sometimes life imitates art.  Such is arguably the case in The Great Hack, (youtube link to preview) — a documentary film featuring a modern-day hero – a mild-mannered academic named David Carroll – an American  digital rights philosopher who took on a billionaire’s empire.

In the Biblical epic, little David slew giant Goliath.  Today, our modern David brought down a powerful firm which was diverting the personal information of 87 million Facebook users, among others, for political targeting of “persuadables” in that group by suing for the return of his personal information.  And David Carroll did exactly that, at court in UK. 

In this socially-disruptive Netflix documentary, we learn about how thousands of our data points, which “THEY” know about each of us, are used to seduce us.  (No longer are we private citizens; we’re all naked, on the auction block.)  We’ve been identified, defined, profiled, and made ready for sale to buyers, for what they bet is our persuadability.  We have no say in what they will show us online, based on our deepest psychological secrets — which has been designed to appeal to our known vulnerabilities, histories, weaknesses, fears, and longings.

 According to the film, the firm Cambridge Analytica deployed  “weapons-grade communications tactics” in elections which had been developed by governments for psy-ops in digital warfare.   Persuading as few as 70,000 voters to change their minds was enough to sway elections in four US States, in 2016, according to the film.  

Netflix has done a superb job of following real participants around with video cameras while interviewing these whistleblowers, journalists for The Guardian, and former executives of the firm.  

NOTE:  Be sure to turn on subtitles, as there are challenging accents coming from some of the British participants. (However, much of the action follows several American individuals caught up in this frightening theft of elections.)  This real life drama makes “reality tv” into a yawn!

2 thoughts on “Film Review : : The GREAT HACK

  1. I just finished reading “Goliath” but it was the wrong one. It should have been “Goliath, The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy” by Matt Stoller. The one I picked up at the library was just “Goliath” by Shawn Corridan, Gary Waid. It was a passable adventure story, but it could have used some editing.

Comments are closed.