‘Data is the most valuable asset on earth.’
These eight words as spoken by Brittany Kaiser, the former business development director for Cambridge Analytica, a now defunct data mining political consulting firm is the reason I watched The Great Hack, Netflix’s documentary about the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal.
I don’t really have many complaints about the content of The Great Hack, except maybe my dislike of some moments that seemed too graphics heavy and the rather surprisingly slow narration at the beginning.
Overall, directors Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim’s film is well structured and does a good job of explaining why the above quote is true and a great job of breaking down the scandal through the roles of several affected persons. One such person being the aforementioned Brittany Kaiser.
As an individual with some background in tech, plus a general understanding of how ‘shady’ many corporations are, prior to viewing, I suspected that much of what would be revealed in The Great Hack was unlikely to be especially surprising to me, and I wasn’t completely wrong. For this very reason, perhaps more than the revelations about the levels of surveillance already happening and the ways our personal data is used by the likes of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, what I liked most about The Great Hack is actually the ‘character study’ of Kaiser. Specifically, the close look into her journey from Cambridge Analytica executive to whistleblower – plus her life before then. By the end of Kaiser’s story, it wasn’t hard to see how a person could have ended up in her precise predicament.
In addition to informing me in more detail about everything I missed by not closely watching the news when this scandal broke, The Great Hack reminded me of the long-standing need for humanity to re-evaluate its priorities. I’m not sure how possible it is to watch this film without thinking about the broken state of capitalism in it’s current form.
‘The more you know, the more you realise you have no idea.’ is an old adage that may cross your mind as you watch this film. Watch it anyway. Especially if you didn’t closely follow the scandal when it was trending very widely. It may not have a lot of good news for you, but perhaps The Great Hack will help you look into the ways to limit the amount of data that’s readily available about you online.
Also, there is that Brittany Kaiser story. I wonder when the movie of her story will come.
Happy Film Loving.