My thoughts on The Great Hack

JSN
2 min readJul 28, 2019

The Great Hack is an illuminating film, and like every documentary uses the guise of “factual,” non-fiction to lead viewers to its world view. Every viewer, like every voter, should scrutinize sources before accepting claims. Unfortunately, I believe many will become further convinced that the culprit behind online psyops and “election manipulation” are tech organizations and governments with Big Brother like control over poor, helpless individuals.

The misconception

The claim stated by the opening character in the film — that “our data has been stolen” and “we have no rights to claim it back” — is paranoid and flawed. We make a willful choice to share information about ourselves on social platforms, we obviously know what that information is because we shared it to begin with, and no one has stolen it away from us such that we are denied access to it. Information was copied under user agreements on the social platforms and filtered by organizations (like Cambridge Analytica) to identify a relatively small subsection of “persuadables” (undecided or easily swayed individuals) to deliver targeted messaging, stoke beliefs / fears and sway votes in swing states. The individuals always had free will not to participate on the platforms, ignore the messaging and believe/vote any which way they choose, determined all by themselves. No forced use, coercion or denial of rights.

The culprit

However, there were attempts to manipulate easily swayed minds using propaganda, and to counter future attempts, our focus should be exactly the same as the election manipulators –“the persuadables”. Such people are the difference that can decide split elections. The solution here is not to censor the Internet and curb social platforms, but rather to teach, educate and encourage independent thinking. The culprit is lack of education, awareness and lazy behavior in a small, but seemingly growing percentage of people. Those people need to take responsibility to investigate sources and determine when information (ads, messages, social broadcasts) are valid or fake. If we can elevate individual voter consciousness, then these targeted, fake campaigns will not be effective or purely humorous.

The hope

I hope otherwise, but I fear that film is more propaganda to drive division and distrust of tech companies and governments based on conspiracies and fearful misconceptions about “authoritarianism” and “deep state”. No — tinfoil hats will not help protect anyone; only active, vigilant brains.

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JSN

Product Designer — Creative with technology. Destructive with bureaucracy. Darkly Humorous.