CS 3043: Social Implications of Information Processing Project

Group Members:

Michael Zeolla, Madyson Kelly, Elise Nerden, Nour Elmaliki, Alexander Kwan

Movie: The Great Hack (2019)




Plot Summary: 

The documentary film about the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal focuses on Professor David Carrol, Brittany Kaisar a former business development director for Cambridge Analytica, and investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr. We learn about each of their personal stories, experiments, and their relationship with the big data company. The stories interweave to expose the role that Cambridge Analytica played in playing with the psychology of an entire nation during a democratic process. Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, Alexander Nix, got exposed on Channel for having 5,000 different data points of every American, and Professor David Carrol took notice of this. The Professor took a legal journey attempting to reclaim the data that Cambridge Analytica had on him, with the help of a UK data privacy expert and lawyer, Ravi Naik. Cambridge Analytica processed data via SCL in Britain, so Carrol’s complaints about personal data and privacy fell under British Jurisdiction. Carrol filed a complaint with the UK’s Information Commissioner's Office which resulted in a fine for SCL for a lack of compliance with them. SCL filed for bankruptcy during Carrol’s legal battle with them because Cambridge Analytica’s work was determined a violation of the UK’s privacy laws. Carole Cadwalladr’s continued work on influencing Cambridge Analytica leads her to a whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, explained how the use of psychographic profiles were used in combination with microtargeting mass harvesting data to influence the 2016 US Presidential election. This is when the allegations are taken public and lead to him testifying to the UK Parliament. This is also when he name drops the former director at Cambridge Analytica, Brittany Kaisar. The filmmakers track her down in Thailand and convince her to come clean about the work of Cambridge Analytica. Brittany Kaisar goes back to Washington DC to explain in detail the effectiveness of Cambridge Analytica’s microtargeting on people on the fence about the 2016 elections. Brittany Kaisar called these people the “persuadables”.


Source: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_great_hack


Karim Amer and Jahane Noujaim, “The Great Hack” (Netflix, 2019), https://www.netflix.com/title/80117542