Ever scroll through social media and step across an ad directly targeting you? That’s because you have a digital footprint on the internet, and this is what is called “big data.” Today, data is more valuable than ever before. It helps you gain insight into consumer behaviors and decision making. Gathering data can also help organizations create targeted focused campaigns to the consumers they’d like to attract.
Directed by husband and wife, Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, The Great Hack goes behind the scenes of Facebook’s most infamous privacy scandal. The film demonstrates how the British Political Consulting Firm, Cambridge Analytica (CA) played in elections and policy around the world through social media data mining, data analysis, and strategic communication. CA refined its method in countries like Thailand and Trinidad & Tobago, before deploying in the Brexit campaign and the 2016 US presidential elections. The company worked with both winning campaigns like Trump in the US and the “Leave” campaign in the UK.
The Great Hack follows Brittany Kaiser, CA’s ex-employee turned ‘whistleblower’ as she uncovers hidden insights and details about CA’s ‘behavioral change.’ She said, “The bulk of our resources went into targeting those whose minds we thought we could change. We called them ‘persuadables.’” By using people’s social media data, CA experts were able to extract information that allowed them to understand how people think and behave and to what extent they can go to change their mindsets, especially when it came to voting during the United States’ 2016 Presidential Election. Kaiser added, “We bombarded them through blogs, websites, articles, videos, ads, every platform you can imagine… Until they voted for our candidate.”
The documentary also uncovers plenty of instances where CA was engaged in orchestrated actions throughout its many years supporting a number of victorious campaigns.
Data privacy in the digital media age
The Great Hack shows how important it is to know your data rights in the social media age. It also leaves us with some questions in how we can find solutions to our data. How can we use social media safely? What rights do we have? How can we stop a trend such as this one before it has room to grow?
The Great Hack reminds us of the need for user-data privacy rights. For any consumer, this will be a step-by-step process and as consumers, the documentary reminds us that we have the right to ask to see our data from any organization.
What can we do to protect our data?
You can still protect your privacy and stop your data from being shared to other entities on Facebook without having to delete your account. Before we begin, try to think and remember for a moment. How many times have you downloaded on app on your phone, logged into a website, or played a game by using your Facebook account? By doing this, you’re actually giving permission to these entities to collect your Facebook data.
To stop this from happening, open the Settings menu and on the left click on Apps. Then you can choose the apps, websites, and games you’d like to remove Facebook from logging into.
What about targeted ads on Facebook? Ever wonder how each time you search for something on the web, Facebook suddenly feeds you ads relating to it? Well you can make sure Facebook no longer bombards you with these needless ads. To do that, go back to Settings and click on Ads. From here, you can simply turn it off and you’re ad free.
Ever scroll through Facebook and see that some of your friends have shared fun quiz results they have taken? That’s another way that Facebook entities take your data and information. And it is one of the most common unnoticed ways they do that. To avoid all that, simply make to not click on those quizzes and to not partake in any of them.
These are just some of the steps you can take to protect and keep your data safe. Our digital lives have become an extension of who we are, so make sure to always be mindful when searching the web, downloading an app, using a website, shopping online, and using social media.
What do we think about The Great Hack?
We give this documentary a thumbs up rating! Its cinematic visuals really take you on an eye-opening journey of the connected world we live in today. It helps you understand the relationship you have with technology and the importance of ethics in the digital media age.