‘The Great Hack’: Manipulating people with their own data

“The Great Hack” tells the story of British data-driven political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. (Supplied)
Updated 29 July 2019

‘The Great Hack’: Manipulating people with their own data

CHENNAI: One of the greatest concerns of this century is the growing threat to privacy. They may not admit it, but many countries — not just those run by dictatorial regimes — are now making it their business to snoop into individuals’ lives. “The Great Hack,” now streaming on Netflix, brilliantly documents this in feature length.

Made by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim (known for “Control Room” and “The Square,” which fetched an Academy nod), “The Great Hack” tells the story of British data-driven political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which used the Facebook data of millions of users to push Brexit and help Donald Trump win the US presidential election.

The documentary is no less thrilling than a political spy story with unforgettable characters. The company got hold of personal messages, photographs and more to shortlist those who were seen as “persuadable,” and they were bombarded with communication to nudge them toward Trump and Brexit. The movie calls this a psychological war.

“The Great Hack” begins with an American professor, David Carroll, who decides after it was revealed that Facebook data were being misused that he will ask Cambridge Analytica to hand over his personal information.

The take on Brittany Kaiser is even more gripping. An ex-intern who worked for former US President Barack Obama, she landed a job with Cambridge Analytica writing contracts for Trump and helping Brexit deals.

Pink-haired whistleblower Christopher Wylie makes up the trio that shook the world out of its Facebook fallacy. 

Will “The Great Hack” lead to a mass exodus from Facebook? Hardly, one would think, because people are so besotted with sharing their most personal moments on the platform that they ignore how vulnerable they can be.

And mobile phones, which just about everybody uses today, often track their users’ every move.

But it is time to seriously ponder how we are naively bartering away our precious privacy for self-promotion among our friends, real and not so real.


Yara Shahidi glows on NAACP Image Awards red carpet

The US actress was nominated for an NAACP award for her role in “Grown-ish.” (Getty)
Updated 23 February 2020

Yara Shahidi glows on NAACP Image Awards red carpet

DUBAI: On Saturday night, A-listers descended upon the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California, for the 51st annual NAACP Image Awards. Among the stars in attendance was US actress and activist Yara Shahidi, who was nominated for the Best Actress in a Comedy Series award for her role in “Grown-ish.” While the 20-year-old didn’t take home the prize — the accolade went to her “Black-ish” co-star Tracee Ellis Ross — Shahidi was a major winner when it came to her scene-stealing red carpet look.

The US-Iranian actress stepped out wearing a mint green satin minidress covered in embellishments by Gucci and a pair of chunky metallic leather platform sandals, also from the Italian house.

As for her beauty look, Shahidi decided to embrace her natural curls on the red carpet. Glowy skin, brushed up brows, a feline flick of liquid eyeliner and a swipe of reflective gloss rendered her makeup look complete.  

The US-Iranian actress stepped out wearing a mint green satin minidress covered in embellishments by Gucci. (Getty)

Other stars who turned heads at the annual awards ceremony include “9-1-1” actress Angela Bassett who accepted the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series award wearing a mint-colored, structured evening gown by Lebanese couture duo Azzi & Osta. The dress featured a waist-cinching belt with an asymmetric neckline and was accessorized with a matching emerald-green clutch and drop earrings.

Other winners on the night included singer Lizzo, who was named the Entertainer of the Year, and “Just Mercy,” which won the Best Motion Picture award, while its lead actor Michael B. Fox nabbed the Best Actor trophy and its secondary star Jamie Foxx won the Best Supporting Actor prize at the awards ceremony that recognizes entertainers of color.

Angela Bassett accepted the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series award wearing a dress from Azzi & Osta. (AFP)

Jordan won for his role as a crusading defense attorney in the film, while Foxx won for his portrayal of the wrongly convicted man he fought for.

Elsewhere, Lupita Nyong’o won the Best Actress in a Film prize for her role in “Us,” and 15-year Marsai Martin won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role in “Little” over superstar names including Jennifer Lopez, Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer.

Meanwhile, singer-turned-beauty-mogul Rihanna received the NAACP President’s Award for Special Achievement and Distinguished Public Service. She called for racial, religious and cultural unity during her acceptance speech. “If there’s anything that I’ve learned, it’s that we can only fix this world together,” she stated, adding: “We can’t do it divided.”