THE GREAT HACK And Your Personal Data

"The documentary, THE GREAT HACK, can really scare you, if you care about your data and how you're manipulated in your day-to-day life by marketing and other parties."

I watched 'The Great Hack' on Netflix and was going to do a TV review of the documentary, but it was so eye-opening that I decided to put it here under my Consumer site!

"Exploring how a data company named Cambridge Analytica came to symbolize the dark side of social media in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as uncovered by journalist Carole Cadwalladr."

Below are tidbits or my take-aways from the documentary:

-Trump spent about $1M a day on Facebook/Google ads.  The company that helped him win is called Cambridge Analytica (referred to as C.A.), and they targeted one state at a time, state after state.

(Have you looked at the permissions you've given your phone apps?)

-C.A. had roughly 5k data points on every single American Voter.

-It's crazy to see some of the correspondence between the Trump team and Cambridge Analytica. Crazy.


People and their entire friend's networks are scoured by various data mining apps.  So even if YOU are protective on the internet, if you have any connections, friends, out there who don't take any digital precautions, they're giving up your info on/for you.

-Yes, it's personal data, and when we interact with ANY application or website, we're giving it away.

-C.A. "says" they don't use FB data, but advertise on it.

-A great example of how FB mines YOUR data is when you get the following:

"When your uncle's friend's sisters dog's birthday, you get a notification."

-Barrack Obama's campaign was the first to ever employ user data from the internet.

-Politics is so polarized that no one takes the time to try to even understand each other's points, hence, they get nothing done.

-Facebook is the best place to test social media experiments.  (think personality quizzes/tests and those dumb ass, what am I tests)

-Voters who C.A. felt their minds could be changed, were the primary targets of their campaigns, called the persuadables.*

-Personalized content nobody else saw, was aimed directly at the persuadables, as it was created to trigger this demographic into responding as they (C.A.) wanted. (One thing I learned was that many folk in the internet only react to headlines and NEVER verify anything.

One example of this persuasion and duplicity is how people blindly believe their favorite movie star or other personality, putting them on a pedestal, no really knowing who they are, just the image they've portrayed.

Here's another example of blind faith: When Trump supporters are interviewed about the impeachment, his fans tout the idea that people should read the transcript of the supposed phone call. That people need to know the truth, they should read it. But when asked if they did... they all to a tee said, "No. I don't have to." They say to "...think for yourself." But they didn't read the transcript.

-When asked if FB employees were involved in the Trump campaign, he (Mark Zuckerberg) says no, but according to the folks that were part of the digital campaign effort, they were stunned by the statement because they said they were working alongside a number of FB staff.

-Cambridge Analytica says that people like David Carrol (a digital rights advocate) has no rights to submit a request for their (C.A.) data on himself.

-All this data about us is also viewed as a potential sort or form of a weapon, called psycho-graphics. Know the enemy to influence them.

-All in all, About 70k voters in three states helped decide the 2016 election in the United States.

-Facebook is designed to monopolize attention, taking all the basic tricks of propaganda and playing on user instincts like fear and anger. They've created a set of tools, allowing advertisers to exploit that emotional audience with "individual level" targeting, creating over two billion users with their 'own reality' inside their app.  (This sounds like a bad sci-fi movie!)

-As long as tech giants are completely unaccountable, elections will always be at risk, as they use hate and fear to monopolize users. (Much like those stupid ass hostile TV ads)

So the question put to the viewers, did Facebook and candidates  actually use fake news to manipulate elections? (We saw Trump spout the premise of opponents and networks using fake news, but apparently it was also his own tool and it was brilliant how he used both sides of the coin to do what was needed. I've seen him say in video clips that he targeted exactly who he wanted to target to win the election.)


The entire premise of these practices fall under the 'divide and conquer' war tactic premise, where a divided people become easier to manipulate.

As long as we have crippling divisions, we are always at risk. It starts with one and goes from there.

(I've seen this in action in sports too many times. Some years back I had rallied my team to use a specific tactic which helped us gain huge strides and points in the game. But then one or more players trying to assert themselves, started doing their own thing, and suddenly, we were losing. Divided with different ideas of tactics, we lost.)


A micro Consumer Bits rant:

Can you be manipulated? You would be surprised.

You would be surprised how many people fervently repost things on Facebook with exciting or polarizing titles, but when you actually click on the link, the article is fuzzy at best about the issue, if not even correct at times.  I'm sitting here right now in the coffee shop, listening to some younger folks just reading headlines, making suppositions, and moving to the next titles, without nary a confirming click on that headline link. SMH!

I've seen anti-climate change advocates push their favorite sources, but when you dig into their source, you see that they pull tiny bits of charts that support what they're saying, but these tiny clips come out of bigger charts. The bigger chart they've clipped from are saying exactly the opposite of what they're pro-porting to contend. It's idiotic to blindly put faith in one source without verifying.

I've seen friends spout how vegetarian practices are destroying the environment. Which truly confuses me, considering how a vegetarian lifestyle diet uses so much fewer resources versus the resources that are used to produce meat-based diets. (I'm not knocking either lifestyle, I'm just making a point about blindly following headlines or fervent support for one point, to the point of blindly professing another point.)

Let me put it to you another way about manipulation... advertisers spend around TWENTY BILLION DOLLARS a season on television advertising. BOTTOM LINE: If that kind of persuasion didn't work, they would not spend that kind of money on it.

I rarely pay attention to what advertisers pitch at me or pop up on my phone. I do my own research and go from there. I don't care what Ford or Chevy or whoever says about their own vehicle or product. I mean really... Chevy spouting on and on about their own product? Paid actors who spout about something they've never cared about, until they were paid to care. Statistics can be spun in many ways to look the way the client wants. If you believed them, you'd run right down the street and buy their product. But I dig through consumer review sites and make my own choice. Period.

When you vote, who do you believe? The opponents? The proponents? Do you read the overly complicated text? Or do you do research on the items and people you vote on instead of taking the bait on their sales pitches?


A premise touted near the end of the film is that data rights equates to human rights. David Carol said that by the time his daughter turns 18, she'll have 70,000 data points on her in various marketing databases.

"You have to understand how your data is affecting your life."

For some of us, we don't pay attention to ads or crap shoved in our faces with online videos. We move forward. But so so many people allow themselves to be swayed by outside influences without convincing themselves that they're right.

And therein lies the problem. Once someone believes their right, whether they are or not, it's hard to change their mind. Humans are a scary lot, we are.


Various Sources:

Whistleblower: We tested messaging on Putin

an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, former Cambridge Analytica employee turned whistle blower Christopher Wylie


One of the leading lines in this trailer asks if you think your microphone has listened to you, but rather than it being the source of your ads, all the data collected about you is to blame. BUT I SAY HOGWASH. When I've spoken about things I've never ever surfed online or bought or what have you, but just talked about near my phone/Alexa/Google Asst., well, I have to wonder. And it's happened a number of times to me.  I don't discount the statement about all the data points collected about each of us, but when I speak about something and see an ad for it within the half-hour, well...


Here's a bit more if you're interested...

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