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Interesting watch, but ultimately could have been much more...
pableto24 July 2019
Engrossing film, and reveals the extent of data scraping that is going on in today's world that is then being used for nefarious purposes.

Interesting to see how it all works, but my beef with the flick is the one-sided view of one of the main characters in Kaiser.

Plain to see that this is a person with little to no moral compass, that happily did what she did to hobnob and feel important/to make an impact. When it was apparent that the sky was falling, she happily turned "whistleblower" and spilled everything she could on operations. I failed to see her show any remorse for the work she did in setting up the whole infrastructure over 3.5+ years. Yet throughout the film she is portrayed as being free from blame and just a source of information, when she clearly sold her soul to make money and for other purposes known only to her. The film-makers almost portray her as a victim and instead of asking the hard questions, appear to be content to play best friend.

The doco could have been much more impactful and meaningful if they had retained independence and reported as such, but all in all a worthwhile watch.
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Not what it seems - Epic levels of narcissism & ego
matthewlineham3 September 2019
Ok so overall my opinion of this documentary if it can be called that went from very good in the first 30-40 minutes and downhill beyond that point resulting in 6 stars from me. Maybe 5.

Why? The main guy (who's name I've forgotten because that's how immaterial he becomes to the narrative as times passes) wants to know what's happened to his data, how its being used etc. Basically the only guy in this entire Doc that comes across as having a genuine motive.

The rest of the Doc is basically a Brittany Kaiser/Kim Kardashian follow around blow hard piece. The more you watch Brittany Kaiser feign shock or any of the other "I'm a real human woman" emotions she displays on screen the more irritating this Doc becomes and the more you come to the conclusion she's vapid and incredibly vainglorious.

Its originally presented as her "Stepping Forward" because she realises FB/CA/What she did was just evil and needed to be stopped. As time passes watching the Doc its blindingly obvious it was nothing of the sort.

She was a willing participant who loved the spotlight, money and access she had. As soon as that house of cards looked shaky she bailed out and found her next "cause" that would pay her money. This Netflix Doc is a very very poor attempt at real analysis of this subject and Brittany Kaiser comes across as somebody clearly obsessed with her own ego.

I challenge anybody to watch this Doc and come away with an alternative impression about her. She's opportunistic and absolutely LOVES the cameras on her and this Doc and she's almost borderline name dropping names or subjects every time she gets the chance to show how important "she once was".

Vainglorious and irritating but good portions of the Doc had quality but in no way should she have been its focus. She's just as guilty and vapid as the rest of them and it shows.
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Best to watch it for yourself, come up with your own opinion rather than reading reviews, articles about this or ads
jonathancley28 July 2019
After seeing this I'm thinking that I might want to close my Facebook account. We live in a crazy world these days where people will do just about anything to survive wth using social media for data mining and anything. All part of the bigger design for us to see ourselves more clearly I'm starting to think and perhaps good for a reorganization of how we do things but it will probably get more crazier before it gets saner. I suggest rather than making an opinion to watch this title based on the reviews you see on imdb and Rotten Tomatoes, go watch it for yourself and come up with your own opinions. . .we now know that many reviews are put out by bots and paid writers so it's hard to get what's real these days. The only way is for one to start thinking for themselves rather than just believing what others say or social media says. You'll find all the answers inside.
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What could have been a great documentary, turned out to be a one-sided view of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
nice_guy-5353228 July 2019
I'm a strong privacy proponent and even more so that any citizen should be in full control of his own data at all times. I have watched countless of documentaries about data privacy: Terms and Conditions May Apply, A Good American, Citizenfour, Nothing to Hide, etc.

Unfortunately, this documentary is out there to point fingers at a "one size fits all" culprit, assuming all gullible voters are getting their news from social networks only. This is a very sad hypothesis that is maintained all through the 2 hours.

It started OK with the build up around the data privacy issue on social networks, but quickly evolves with the introduction of two ex-Cambridge Analytica (CA) employees the documentarists like to call "Whistleblowers". These two knew very well that what they were doing at CA was toxic and unethical, pushed it, got paid for it and are now trying to milk a dead cow one last time.

Christopher Wylie was key in revealing the inner-outs at CA. But what isn't mentioned in the Doc is that he's also one key resource who pitched the idea of aggressive data mining, first in 2009 to the Liberal party of Canada (who refused because too privacy-intrusive), then to CA in 2013-2014 (See CBC news article - Source #11 on his Wikipedia Webpage.) This person profited extensively from this, and now that CA is down, he plays the good guy by pretending to be a whistleblower. In the Doc, he goes as far as making the poor comparison that what happened in 2016 with Trumps/Brexit was cheating, and just like the Olympics, cheaters should lose their medal. Well, what about him? Will he pay back what he earned buy building this privacy invasive tool? (Probably not.)

Then comes Brittany Kaiser, ex-Director at CA who clearly lacks a moral compass and only thrive on her ego and pride herself as being a "whistleblower" when her world has finally crumbled. She worked on Obama campaign but switched side at CA to work on Brexit and Trump campaign because this job paid (her own comment btw).

None of them are whistleblowers: They are opportunist who profited to the maximum of their position at CA until the scandal exploded. They are key elements that led to my data privacy exploitation and yours as well. They are no Edward Snowden who quit a well paid (200k/yr) job to denounce the NSA. Far from it.

There's a 3rd whistleblower (Paul-Olivier Dehaye), but the documentary makes very few reference to him, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Paul Hilder, the Political Technologist, who, in Thailand, tries to convince Mrs Kaiser that using targeted ads and data to "manipulate" voters on the fence to vote for one party or another is unethical and wrong. Political parties has been doing this for years, but now it's outrageous, apparently. Businesses are doing it too. There's mention of Obama using social media "wisely" during his 2012 campaign. But when the other side does it, it becomes a scandal?

I expected better from this documentary but my wife and I were left disappointed. Yes, the whole privacy invasion is disgusting, but it's the government's job to tackle it with appropriate laws. And so far, we don't see a lot of efforts to do so, no matter the party in place.
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Conflation does not equal Causation
nialldmoriarty22 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers

1. It clearly demonstrated how Cambridge Analytica stole peoples private information and used this to build voter profiles. Informative. There definitely needs to be tighter controls on this.


1. At 2hrs - far too long. The above could have been condensed into a 10 min Youtube video, and none of the pertinent details would have been lost.

2. The documentary conflated the demonstrable and possibly illegal act of stealing peoples personal information - with the swaying of fence sitting voters. While they explained and provided evidence for the former, they provided no evidence for the latter. I was literally half way through, and still saying to myself, 'any minute now they are going to have a slew of interviews with fence sitting voters who stated they were swayed by targeted propaganda / fake news - specifically on social media'. Another hour went by and this still did not happen. Very disappointing. Was this not the whole reason d'etre of the documentary? All I got was theory and conjecture that this is why Trump / Brexit happened. In reality no one knows the reasons people voted the way they did, as voting is private. The documentarians never even attempted to explore the idea that maybe - just maybe - the Democrats / Leave campaign, had terrible ideas that were not appealing and that's why they lost their respective elections.

3. The documentarians took their theory a step further, and blamed Cambridge Analytica for violent uprisings, terrorism and on one occasion 100s, possibly thousands of deaths. Even if one were to accept this as fact, Cambridge Analytica are novices in this regard. For just one example, the Mainstream Media convinced the world it was a good idea to invade Iraq utilising fake news and propaganda about their supposed possession of WMDs. A million people have easily died since in Iraq and Afghanistan. But none of Cambridge Analyticas actions are contextualised like this. Its just Mainstream Media = are presumed good truth tellers. Cambridge Analytica = presumed propagandists who initiate insurrections and wars. It is in fact demonstrably the other way around - specifically with regards to war. The documentary would have been much better if it focused on the utilisation of propaganda by media and governments generally, and did not attempt to blame all on CA.

4. It was clear from the excerpts of the British hearing with pink haired man that the documentarians edited or chopped / changed questions and answers. He was looking in the direction of the questioner when the questions were being posed. He was looking in a different direction (or to another person) when giving his answers. The documentarians were obviously swapping different answers to different questions to drive their agenda.

5. Again the length. The last 30 mins were pure emotional fluff. I really didn't get the rationale for extending it to 2hrs. Boooooring.

.... Anyways... I didn't particularly enjoy it.
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An eye-opening doc
laurasomia7 September 2019
This documentary helped me understand what went down during the 2016 election as well as what those Zukerberg hearings were really about. I wish the filmmakers hadn't spent so much time trying to make the heads of Cambridge Analitica more likeable when really, at their core, they weren't respectable people.
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Hypocrisy or scandal?
johnchi112 August 2019
As one other reviewer stated, this "documentary" started by briefly mentioning how data analytics and saavy digital political engagement really started with Obama.

Then it goes on to showcase how personal data was "weaponized" essentially in 2016 and implied that Trump's election win and Brexit was a direct result of said technology only. Both of these "wins" are anathema to the left or progressives and repeatedly emphasized throughout.

While I am no fan of Facebook (I quit months ago), my issue with this movie has to do with it's obvious progressive POV. That was clearly evident and ruined the underlying message about privacy, one's data being used/abused. IMO, this movie showed a clear bias vs. just focusing on the "evils" of personal data manipulation, exploitation, etc. by some tech corporations.

Furthermore, I have to posit that this movie probably would never have been made had Brexit and more importantly, Trump's win not have happened (these 2 political "anomolies" were clearly the basis of much of the movie and "main characters", like Brittany Kaiser who is an unsympathetic/hypocritical actor). The initial whistleblower-data scientist even stated that Brittany was no "whistleblower", even though this movie spent an enormous time listening to Brittany's mea culpas and "regret" for working at CA during these crucial times. And the "good actors" favorably commented on her testimony, "awakening" and "courageous" stance now.

This begs the question; what is the real "scandal" here? Is it outcome based with only "right wing" political victories and FB complicity the overarching concerns? Or is it about the "evils" of an unregulated industry and data intensive corporations? Decide for yourself.
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Had potential, but became an ironic mess.
endretrandal29 July 2019
Communication wars are real, dangerous and have corrupted society. Propaganda has always been a problem, but it is now more dangerous than ever before. That is also the problem with this movie. It feels like it only shows it from one side and from one part of the story. Glorifying one side, and makes the other part the enemy. The definiton of propaganda. I'm not saying that this movie isn't showing the truth. Only that it might not show the whole truth
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Nothing New, though we'd sooner not look.
jmccrmck-6517231 July 2019
Read the critical reviews here and ask yourself to what use we have put the hyper powerful computing power ,infinite memory storage and vast amounts of OUR DATA controlled by , literally, a handful of people. Granted it's mostly for commerce, selling us stuff, until it becomes selling our data to people or entities who clearly don't have our best interests in mind or at heart. And this handful of people cares not one wit to whom they are selling our data or what their ultimate aims might be. ??? leftist propaganda??? One need only look at the decidedly anti democratic trends sweeping the globe to understand how powerful the manipulation of people through the use of the data they surrender, either willing or not is. This film attempts to illuminate the dangers of weaponizing our data and using it against us to undermine democracy and how vulnerable we are to that sort of manipulation. There are real world consequences , Myanmar for one and those are bloody consequences. Propaganda is certainly the familiar domain of the fascists who currently hold sway. across the globe. Despite what the reviews on offer here proclaim this film is hardly propaganda , far from it.
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Painstakingly slow
flosperbel-777-66543315 August 2019
While the info was accurate and interesting, the documentary itself was unnecessarily long and slow-paced with a fake "deep" air to it. Annoying to watch.
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Opens your eyes to what's really happening.
andrew_culley24 July 2019
The documentary is genuinely scary but not that surprising. Should be watched by all just to show the scale of data mining to the public. Well worth a watch.
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Oh the irony...
skepticskeptical25 August 2019
This unwitting mockumentary is in some ways quite hilarious, albeit unintentionally so. The creators seem to think that they have done some great service to humanity by pointing out that political campaigns attempt, using all available means, to garner the votes of undecided or ¨persuadable¨ persons. That was what Barack Obama did when he seduced millions of first-time voters to believe that he was the harbinger of ¨Hope & Change¨. Turns out that Obama was just another coopted neoliberal. (Did you know that he just bought a $15 million mansion on Martha´s Vineyard?)

During the 2016 presidential campaign, having learned the secrets to Obama´s success, both Trump and Clinton harnessed the power of the internet and social media to win over the latest crop of ¨persuadables¨. The Trump team did a better job than the Clinton team, which is why Trump, not Clinton, was elected.

Boo hoo! Using social media was good for Obama but bad for Trump because the makers of this film wanted and fully expected Clinton to win. The Guardian journalist featured in this film, Carol something or other, repeatedly describes what happened as the ¨weaponization¨ of social media. I really hate that word, to begin with, but all it means in this context is that it was used more successfully by the Trump camp than by the Clinton machine. (Ditto for Brexit, and of course Carol is a major Remoaner simultaneously afflicted by TDS). If you do not believe that the Clintons have always operated in exactly the same way as the Trump campaign did in 2016, please do yourself a favor and go watch the film Primary Colors (1998) right now.

What is the point of this temper tantrum masquerading as a documentary supposed to be? The real take away here is that some people have no idea how politics works. Data has always been culled about undecided voters to determine where best to allocate resources. Nothing has changed except that in this case Facebook lied to all of its users and sold all of their data to the highest bidders. Cambridge Analytica was an organization no different from dozens--perhaps hundreds--of others. The difference in their case is that they were not only unscrupulous but also careless about what they did.

In all of the hue and cry about the end of free and fair elections, I noticed nothing said about how Clinton secured the Democratic party nomination, which was suspected by Bernie Sanders supporters all along and then confirmed by the hacked DNC emails. Yes, the Democratic primary was rigged from the get-go, as the DNC had selected Clinton before any voter ever voiced his or her preference. So basically, again, the complaint is not that elections can never be free or fair again, but that the outcomes desired by the filmmakers were not realized.

This effort is risible, at best, and I trust that the fifteen minutes of fame of the two star witnesses (who are honestly perfect self-parodies) have now elapsed.
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Great show, many reviewers missed the point
niallspillane27 July 2019
This film isn't about who won, it's how they won, it's not about who is using yiur data, it's the fact that they are. It's about data rights, not the right, not the left.....come on folks of IMDb you are cleverer than this. It's an important movie so watch it again.
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Society divided, nobody cares, other notice and makes use of it. New trends, but history will always repeat. Human nature at its finest.
lady_rock_8826 July 2019
I am reading some of the reviews here and I cannot help but think that we deserve what's coming, and what's coming it's definitely NOT GOOD.

How can people still remain so oblivious after watching this, where Cambridge Analytica goes out in the open and puts in a positive light, the fact that they manipulated people? Okay, you're judging the documentary, how was constructed, made, etc, BUT at the same time, you have the FACTS, THE PROOF, for how these kind of companies know MORE about yourself than you will ever know, how they manipulated gullible people, feeding them lies and fake information.

People are still minimizing the level of importance of what's happening now within our society, in a world that definitely moves faster than the majority of people. This documentary shows exactly how we are built, as human beings. There will always be someone who sees further than "tomorrow" and the exploitation of it. But don't worry, you will not be affected by it. Just go to the other tab, and keep scrolling through those new posts!
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Very watchable documentary on a key issue of our era - the corporate exploitation of our data
Privacy-International23 July 2019
This documentary is a fascinating account of The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

In early 2018, Cambridge Analytica became a household name. The company had exploited the personal data of millions of Facebook users, without their knowledge or consent, and used it for political propaganda.

At a running time of almost two hours, The Great Hack is overlong, but it remains a largely engrossing watch.

The story of the notorious and now defunct Cambridge Analytica is told through the eyes of those who uncovered the scandal, and some of its former employees. One of the film's best features is the way in which it renders invisible data exploitation visible, by giving shape and colour to the 2.5 quintillion data points we produce every day. Understanding how this data is collected, shared and (mis)used is difficult for most of us to comprehend, but the Great Hack does a good job of visualising it.

The Great Hack spends a lot of time - perhaps too much time - with Brittany Kaiser, the former business development director for Cambridge Analytica. She spoke out days after the Guardian reported her alleged involvement in a smear campaign in the Nigerian 2015 election, but this context of Kaiser's decision to go public, and other key details about her complicated story are not covered. She is actually a far more ambiguous character than she appears to be in the documentary.

Through Kaiser, and previously unreleased files and recordings, The Great Hack gets into details of how Cambridge Analytica operated. In one of the film's most convincing scenes, we learn how SCL Elections, Cambridge Analytica's parent company, engineered a grassroots youth movement in Trinidad and Tobago to "increase apathy" so that young Afro-Caribbeans would not vote. This highlights a theme that often got lost in the midst of a scandal that focussed primarily on the company's involvement in the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit referendum - which is that countries with fewer laws and protections often serve as testing grounds for the worst practices by companies.

In one scene Kaiser discusses a PowerPoint slide that shows all the different data sources the company has used. Next to Facebook, we see the logo of data broker Acxiom. It is in moments like these, that the Great Hack hints at, but fails to explain exactly how the story of a single company links to a broader narrative about a systemic and looming threat - and the importance of enforceable data rights in addressing this challenge.
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Good topic, shame this went political
trimblair29 September 2020
DNC must have produced this show that starts out strong talking about social media and how the big companies are gathering your info. Sadly it turns political when it goes off script to blame Trump. Laughable. Shame
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We live in a world of illusions...
feraghi25 July 2019
...but most won't admit. Why? Simply because we're addicted to it. Who could shut down fb (or any other social network) account, or TV, after watching this documentary (or "Snowden", or even 1971's "Network")? 1? 2? None? Whoever believes technology is here for the good of the society, they're just deep trapped into that illusion. Technology developed for military purposes. That's the "A". Business and commerce is the "B". What is the "C"? "Control". Who's behind that? Freaks of the highest elite. What they want? Everything. Our mind, souls, and all the resources and wealth this planet can offer. What can we do? Well, not much. The majority is blind, and they're "happy" in their blindness. One-eyed, they are few, and usually suffer from depression (often because they can't stand all that "beep" going on around 'em). Two-eyed, i've never met. So i guess there's no way out for our deeply hypnotised and failed species, except maybe from a "hard reset"...
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Informative .. weak in story telling !!
proabhinav24 July 2019
Informative in the way how you can be manipulated .. data is indeed the new oil but will the government do anything that such an " attempt " never happens again ..

Neither movie nor the government has answers .. maybe they used your data to govern you !!
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More immoral than it's subject matter
spaulagain18 October 2019
This "documentary" is no different than the targeted ads and data mining it argues are immoral. It's very selective in which facts it focuses on in order to paint a very one sided view. Not to mention that's it's entire plot is built around the "whistleblowers" that are equally immoral and just loved to double dip in this disaster. What's worse, is this film tries to put the results of the election all in the hands of CA and the whole data mining industry. While effective in that persuasion, it's built on a false presumption that the entire population makes all their political decisions based on a few Facebook ads and stories. Basically it assumes everyone is stupid.

Do yourself a favor, read up on this stuff from your own research. Don't rely on trash "documentaries" like this to get your info. Otherwise they're right, we are all stupid.
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The crime - Trump won in 2016
Foiser25 July 2019
When Obama won in 2008, his digital strategy (which in turn was built upon Howard Dean's failed presidential bid in 2004) was lauded by the media as a sign of utter brilliance, meriting numerous positive write ups and media coverage.

In 2012 Mitt Romney, tried and failed with his ORCA system, which was correctly derided by the media as a debacle.

In 2016 Trump won. For these media and artistic types, clustered in their elitist coastal bubbles, that was the true crime. The fact his message appealed to the Obama-Obama-Trump voters that swung the election is of no importance.

In alternate history, where Hillary won in 2016, "Me too", Jeffrey Epstein, Russian meddling and other such scandals remain hidden and unaddressed by the media, because they wouldn't care.

Neither would they care about Cambridge Analytica.

But we live in the version of history where Trump won in 2016. And the coastal media elites and Hollywood, the foot-soldiers of the Democratic party, want to make sure the same doesn't happen in 2020.

We will see if it works or not...
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I am so tired of propaganda from both political sides
cohvictory-712-77321425 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The sad thing about his movie is that it could have been good... It wasn't. This is a liberal propaganda piece. If the Liberal side would have won the election, this documentary would have never been made! There really is no unbiased viewpoint out there any more that gives truth. It is either left or right. What i see now is an attempt to control media from a liberal perspective to change narratives. The american people do not want that either.

The liberal, the conservative and The Americans!
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Wasted opportunity by picking left wing rhetoric
info-6503924 July 2019
What's wrong is wrong. It's not right if the enemy or our allies do it. It's wrong.

This topic is extremely important. But conveniently avoids mentioning the counter-part of this, the big tech companies based in California have a huge left-leaning bias. Both things are bad.

It's such a shame. Also the storytelling is terrible and boring. This deserved better treatment than a partisan Netflix documentary.
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Disappointing, nothing new!
rickhuckstep25 July 2019
Who was the intended audience for the Great Hack?

If, like me, you are all over the CA story, then this documentary failed to provide anything new of substance. It simply retold the story that has already been widely told. I had hoped that Netflix would make a "Big Short" style expose rather than assume the audience already knew the background and characters
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VAPID (a B. Kaiser 'travelogue' valentine only)
Bofsensai24 July 2019
Much anticipated as ballyhooed in the press (UK Guardian newspaper, of which is interviewed their award winner investigative reporter, Carole Cadwalladr) as a major expose - A. Banks, the bankroller to UK Brexit campaigns was reported to even have gone to UK court to suppress it! - this turgid tale tells us virtually nothing we didn't (or shouldn't) already well know, making it largely pointless!

Constructed around main 'star' David Carroll and his ultimately failed legal attempt to prise out of the tech companies (Cambridge Analytica only? Why not the big boys? Where it's all ultimately held?) the precise ("5,00 points"!) data they have on him, this starts promisingly with the visual metaphor with every single bit (byte?) of all our online typed in data constantly flowing out behind us, like a Floydian dystopia (viz. "with your fear flowing out behind you" : Roger Waters / The Wall) up into the ether to be gathered ... by someone, somewhere, constantly: plus Carroll beginning by inking on a big whiteboard the beginnings of what would seem to be like suspects in criminal investigation incident links charting: but, this is soon abandoned, jettisoned for him (or the producers) to merely hop around the world with ex (now defunct, notorious, scapegoated?) Cambridge Analytica employee, Brittany Kaiser, originally held out as to be in possession of some sort of secret devastating knowledge of the whole shebang. In effect to becomes, her film, like a valentine to this poor little lost lass ... Eventually ... ah, no plot spoilers, but it would seem the producers gave her a grand ol' time gallivanting around world locations (e.g. including early on, sumptuous, mysterious, (secret?) unnamed Thai infinity pool location!*)

Basically, if you don't know already that everything you digitally click online (including writing and reading this) is 'harvested' and stored to make an ultra detailed online personality of you, then you may find it somehow revelatory. But if you do, anything of substance of demanding that our governor's recognise its duty to protect you/us from this unconsensual, in effect, data rape - or more accurately, collation and storage of ALL your personal private attitudes and all that that says about you to complete strangers who will use it to manipulate your believed free will, is completely missing from this vapid and turgid telling of in effect, the Brittany Kaiser travelogue show, in which it would seem the doc makers were somehow fascinated with only her in the end, as she gives her 'I'm just an innocent worker' rabbit like caught in the headlight glare of shock results for those that did not recognise the potential of this new data harvesting and profiling facility.

For a most fleeting moment, a 'data rights' lawyer (Ravi Naik for Carroll) is so briefly interviewed as like the proverbial blink and you'll miss his probably the most salient observation to the whole issue! (And that never developed!)

Otherwise, literally NONE of those that bankrolled and used this new facility to their advantage - possibly, allegedly, electoral financing illegally - better than their rivals who lost, is interviewed, let alone investigative reporter like grilled:

And with the 'great' (apt) title of the 'Great Hack' indicating the magnitude of the outrage occurring originally from (ironically) liberal (left leaning) PRIVATE organisations, yet virtually NONE of these are in depth examined. (Let alone interviewed - of course!)

Further, the already existing evidence of the already likely (unlawful?) swinging of elections in other (minor? So not so relevant?!) countries (watch to see if possible) are also only cursorily referenced.

*To be in effect, merely a meandering Brittany Kaiser travelogue travesty on what it's supposed to be about. Shame on the makers and producers - and indeed Netflix for tolerating and promoting such vapid bilge.
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A bit one sided
beecherbj28 July 2019
Looked forward to watching this and then got 30 minutes in and realized it was going to be a couple of Democrats from CA crediting the firm for the 2016 election outcome. I would have much preferred an unbiased film that got into the technical details and truly educated the public on the privacy of what we do online.. instead we got a political film.
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