The Great Hack review: a terrifying exposé of information mining

In an era when data is king, this documentary will make you think twice about clicking away your personal details

THE GREAT HACK (2019), David Carroll (Associate Professor Parsons School of Design)
4.0 out of 5 star rating

The Great Hack is a terrifying documentary about the new threat of information mining.

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It leads with the fact that data is now the world’s most valuable commodity – bigger than oil – in a new era of digital “disruption” and data misuse. This caffeinated crusade starts with an animated vision of zillions of online posts fizzing upwards from our screens, before settling into more familiar, back-of-a-cab campaigning mode.

The Crown - Matt Smith, Peter Morgan, Claire Foy - Writer/Creator Peter Morgan with Matt Smith (Prince Philip) and Claire Foy (Queen Elizabeth II) (Netflix, TL)

Among the featured subjects is approachable but obsessive New York design school professor David Carroll, a man on a quest to acquire his own data. His journey takes him to London and Cambridge Analytica – the consultancy closed down in 2018 after a scandal involving unsuspecting Facebook users having their data harvested and then used for political gain.

This fastidiously partisan account, directed by Oscar-nominated Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim (The Square), relies heavily on us-versus-them testimony and conjures its own version of project fear.

It falters only in terms of the sketchiness of its star whistleblower, former Cambridge Analytica business development director Brittany Kaiser, a social media-savvy human rights lobbyist turned Republican jet-setter whose inside info helps lay the insidious system bare.

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The Great Hack has a limited release in cinemas and is available on Netflix