The Great Hack is a 2019 documentary film covering the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica story and how it influenced elections in various countries through social media. The documentary was produced and directed by Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer. It premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in the Documentary Premieres section and was released by Netflix on July 24, 2019.
The Great Hack looks into the backstory behind Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, and the 2016 election. SCL Group was a private British behavioral research and strategic communication company that used its subsidiary, Cambridge Analytica, to influence the elections of various countries through social media by acquiring the private Facebook data of tens of millions of users. The information was then used to influence political campaigns. It is believed that the collected data was later used to assist in the election of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), for the European Union Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom, the Indian National Congress (INC), and the election of U.S. President Donald Trump.
According to the New York Times, this is believed to be the most significant known leak in Facebook history. Christopher Wylie, a Cambridge Analytica employee, revealed in interviews with the Guardian and The New York Times that Cambridge Analytica collected over 87 million Facebook users’ data by having them take a paid personality quiz. The questionnaire then pulled data from their friends’ profiles as well.
The documentary follows a group of people, including Brittany Kaiser, the former business development director of Cambridge Analytica, and David Carroll, a college professor who sued Cambridge Analytica to access the data they had on him.
Watching this documentary helps to understand how people were effectively targeted in order to have their opinions influenced.
“Ted Cruz campaign using firm that harvested data on millions of unwitting Facebook users,” The Guardian, February 16, 2016.
“Facebook understood how dangerous the Trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica could be much earlier than it previously said. Here’s everything that’s happened up until,” Business Insider, August 23, 2019.
“Documentary: ‘The Great Hack, “NPR, July 28, 2019.