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  • Writer's picturePatrick Drenkelforth

“The Great Hack”: The Netflix Documentary in 4 Keys

“The Great Hack”: The Netflix Documentary in 4 Keys

We continue with the plot of documentaries that expose the problem of the privacy of your data and the need to be aware of it. This time, it is the turn of The Great Hack, a documentary on Netflix produced and directed by Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, previously nominated for an Oscar, which talks about the scandal between Facebook and the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, closed in May 2018 and then declared bankrupt.

According to Wikipedia, the plot centers on the intertwined stories of Carol Cadwalladr, British investigative journalist, Brittany Kaiser (former director of business development at Cambridge Analytica) and David Carroll, professor at The New School and Parsons.

Cadwalladr was the one who exposed how Cambridge Analytica influenced the UK Brexit campaign, as well as the Argentine and US election campaigns – it boasted of having 5,000 specific data on every American voter – in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

However, as a former CEO of the now defunct firm says, “it’s not just about one company.” The documentary opens our eyes to the way in which our lives are subjected to constant monitoring through digital technology, posing a threat to human rights.

The Great Hack”: The documentary on Netflix

‘The Great Hack’ opens the door to conspiracy theory, covering the disclosure of data by Cambridge Analytica, which secretly collected up to 87 million Facebook user data, one of the biggest tech controversies of recent years.

A brief summary of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, enhanced with graphics depicting the leak of people’s data from their devices, kicks off the documentary, then returns to the beginning, supported by candid recordings months later, of some notable protagonists.

The remainder of the nearly two-and-a-half-hour film unfolds amid the corporate drama of Carroll and Kaiser, pursued by filmmakers around the world, as described by The Verge.

Relying on reporter Cadwalladr and former company executive Julian Wheatland, among others, The Great Hack brings together the story of a company undone by its own amoral hubris, a reminder that would-be supervillains are constantly watching us.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal in 4 keys

According to a series of journalistic investigations the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica improperly acquired information from 87 million users of the social network in the United States subsequently used to psychologically manipulate those who voted in the 2016 US elections. We explain what happened in 5 key points.

1. Millions of private data reach Cambridge Analytica

Based in London and founded in 2013, Cambridge Analytica was a company that used data analysis for campaigns by brands and politicians eager to “change the behavior of the audience“, according to its site. web until 2018.

Obtaining profiles of 87 million Facebook users (more than 15% of the US population) is attributed to Professor Aleksandr Kogan, who in 2013 developed a personality test in a Facebook application, information that he later sold to the company.

2. Protagonist in the U.S. elections

In an interview with the BBC, Christopher Wylie, former employee of the firm and data scientist, affirmed that the firm crossed Kogan’s data with Facebook information to infer psychological profiles of users.

In this way, Cambridge Analytica managed to find the type of content, theme and tone of a message that would change voters’ way of thinking in an almost individualized way. Likewise, it not only sent personalized advertising, but also created fake news that it then replicated on social networks, Wylie said.

3. Scandal crosses the U.S. border

A report based on hidden camera footage from British Channel 4 appeared to suggest that Cambridge Analytica offered sleazy tactics to discredit politicians, which included ex-spies and prostitutes.

Alex Tayler, Cambridge Analytica’s chief data officer, explained to an undercover reporter, “We use that in the U.S. and we use that in Africa. It’s what we do as a company.”

Then, according to the hidden camera, the company’s CEO, Mark Turnbull, added: “We’ve done it in Mexico, Malaysia and now we’re moving into China, Brazil, Australia.”

4. Facebook washed its hands

When Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to testify before a British Parliament committee, he stated that it was no longer possible for an application to access the personal information of users’ friends who use them. When Kogan developed the test, the option depended on one’s privacy settings.

For this reason, Facebook assures that its security was never breached. Cambridge Analytica, for its part, assured that when in 2015 it learned how Kogan had collected the data, it deleted them, as well as the Facebook profiles.

Instead Wylie assured that not only was this data from the social network used for Trump’s campaign, but that it was the basis for building the company“.

The tip of the iceberg?

We have been warning about it, and we are not the only ones. For academic Shoshana Zuboff, the incident was not an anomaly but the inevitable consequence of a system based on collecting and monetizing our information: “surveillance capitalism“, as she calls it.

The fundamental underpinnings of the model are: accumulating vast amounts of data on people, using it to establish detailed profiles of their lives and behavior, and selling that information to third parties.

The model underpins a complex ecosystem of tech companies, data brokers, advertisers and others, which could be inherently conflicting with our human rights, a real threat to our ability to make autonomous decisions, and even to have a say.

What can be done? The data-driven business model is emerging as a systemic and structural problem that is difficult to address and needs a combination of policy and regulatory solutions.

An analysis of “The Great Hack”

It is clear that the intention of the Netflix production is to explore the different edges of the Cambridge Analytica – Facebook conflict, trying to raise public awareness about the dangers of the digital worldas we have been doing in our most recent deliveries in Wahari.Coin.

A rule on the internet is very clear when it says that the product is the user when it is free. In that sense, the message of directors Amer and Noujaim is clear: “data privacy is a human right“.

However, the documentary forgets to consider the communicators and the electorate’s own will as part of the equation. Likewise, it is the task of our authorities to ensure our security, particularly that of the most vulnerable.

The Great Hack ends with part of a speech by Cadwalladr in which he asks CEOs to accept that the technologies created to bring us closer together are now separating and surveilling us. Also, he asks the audience present if what they want is to play with the phone while “this darkness“ traps them.

“The Great Hack”: Reflection

It was clear from the massification of information and social unification: It is inevitable to be watched. And as mentioned in The Great Hack, “oil is no longer the most important value, now data is the most important value“.

We may feel stripped of our human rights. The truth is that we have allowed them to do what they want with our data, and how can we not, if it is still the strong point for such important aspects as marketing or politics?

The documentary makes a good effort to show people how thousands of data circulate through the network and reveal their secrets. Also, it is a kind of warning, so that we always read the terms and conditions, do not believe everything that is published and do not download any kind of application.


One of the main objectives of the makers of this documentary is obvious: to try to make the public aware of the dangers of digital world. If the product is free, the product is the user, but the message of the directors of the documentary is all of clear: “data privacy is a human right“, something that we defend at WahariCoin.Com.

However, it is everyone’s job, both communicators and platform owners and their own users, not without forgetting those who represent us in governmental spheres.


The Great Hack netflix documentary


The Great Hack is the Netflix documentary that tells how the scandal that involved both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica was hatched

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