What I Learnt From The Great Hack

On Monday night, Livia Firth hosted a screening of Netflix documentary “The Great Hack”, which delves into the Cambridge Analytica scandal and details how our personal data is being used to influence critical decisions we make as a society. Following the eye-opening film, a Q&A was held with one of the film’s two directors, Karim Alder, and investigative journalist and subject of the documentary, Carole Cadwalladr. Charlie Lally shares her takeaways from the Q&A.

Data is arguably the world’s most valuable asset and, frighteningly, is being weaponised to impact the outcome of many of society’s biggest political and cultural outcomes of the recent years.  The Great Hack documents the huge influence that social channels like Facebook had on voters of the 2016 American election, the Brexit referendum, and hundreds of other critical decisions that have been made around the world. 

There will never, ever be another democratic election in history” With information warfare being waged online, too much power sits with those accessing our data and it has become impossible to participate in society without having our opinions and voting decisions influenced by targeted advertising and campaigns. 

The connected world is here to stay. In 10 years time it is estimated that there will be 75-100 billion connected devices, and even if we delete all of our social accounts it has become impossible to go completely “off-grid” and disconnect from the digital world. During the film it becomes clear that through so many of our day-today actions, from buying a coffee to sending a message, our data is being collected and stored. 

How do we move forward?

While we won’t ever be able to erase our data profiles, there are legislative steps being taken to protect our data online. However, it is also our responsibility to protect our own data and be aware of the media that we are consuming and how it impacts our decisions. That can start as simply as pausing and being cautious about the personal details you share online, and reading the terms and conditions before the instinctive click on “I Agree” when you go on to a new website. You can also vary the outlets where you source news and information from and talk to people with different views to you who can open your mind to new ideas and perspectives.

You can watch The Great Hack from the comfort of your own couch on Netflix.

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