It’s been about a decade now since most of us have been active on social media, and in that time the highs and lows that come with the vast exposure of what used to be private matters has essentially converted users into unrecognizable versions of ourselves.
Nothing is off limits anymore, and even the tragic and very intimate life events that were reserved for personal moments with loved ones, have now become uploaded clips that capture real-time miscarriages and other triggering content that are no longer hidden to reserve sanity.
Relationship statuses are also vulnerable to the bug of over-sharing, as silly lies are revealed through the urgency to share the evidence of why hashtags were invented, and how the unhealthy competitiveness of proving why living your #bestlife should be the sport that has to be conquered, reduces grown adults to pathetic guinea pigs for the never-ending experiment.
I have always fostered a rather distant relationship with technology that just never grew past the toddler stage.
Facebook was the first attempt at functioning in a space that hosted a crowded field of past and present “friends,” and the prospect seemed excitingly progressive, especially when you could revive buried connections with a simple click, but as with anything that’s too good to be true, it didn’t take long for the warning signs to flare up.
The mechanisms of Facebook encouraged the vibe to populate pages with information that could serve as the photo album of our lives, with everything splashed about for the benefit of familiar gawkers who are inspired to refresh their view with splashier fare that helps to keep them activated.
Suddenly the renewed connections began to erode, and the pressure to oblige the list of standbys waiting to have their “requests” granted, became the headache-inducing task that signaled why the minefield of data wasn’t for the purpose of establishing fruitful bonds.
The deletion of my Facebook account was an empowering moment that immediately gifted me with the knowledge of why addictive platforms was the fundamental drive for tech geniuses, who never planned on enforcing the mandate that was meant to protect the credentials that can be nefariously weaponized against unsuspecting owners.
And that brings us to the globally orchestrated invasion of Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct British political consulting firm that came into existence back in 2013, and based on the criminal methods of trafficking data for the purpose of manipulating the electoral process of targeted countries, using Facebook as the primary source, the company was forced to shut down operations in 2018.
The origins of the scandalized firm’s name comes from the creator of the app that was hosted by Facebook, and served as the main conduit for data mining that expertly seized the identities of a shit load of users who were willing to click on those floaty “personality tests” that trick you into revealing exactly what makes you tick.
Alexandr Kogan, is the professor from the famed Cambridge University, who curated the goldmine that swiftly elevated the viable currency of data, when his app stealthily and profitably captured snapshots of behavioral tendencies of naive users who took the bait, and included the bonus of their “friendship networks.”
Cambridge Analytica promptly purchased the harvested goods and proceeded to plot the epic takeover over of democracies in key areas of the world by programming the poached data in ways that would guarantee the victory of candidates that were ready to pay millions to secure victory.
This is the subject of the very insightful and frightening Netflix documentary, The Great Hack, which begins with the initial crusade of a New York based media professor, David Carroll, that turns out to be a fruitless endeavor, after he tries and fails to get Cambridge Analytica to furnish his personal data profile; one of many used to illegally plot Candidate Trump’s winning ticket to the White House.
Carroll’s outrage at the audacity of being victimized by instruments of pure evil that are devised to disable the structures of lawful entry that never permits the dubious hawking of personal information behind the backs of unwilling participants, ultimately leads to the vault of goodies that contain the main perpetrators of the scheme that polluted the art of engagement beyond recovery.
We are introduced to a young White woman in her thirties named Brittany Kaiser, who is American and apparently a whizkid when it comes to tinkering with the control centers of social media platforms with incentives that pay off for high-profile clients like the 2008 Barack Obama Campaign, where she was employed as an intern. And later as the “special adviser” turned ambitious hire under the tutelage of Alexander Nix, the spooky bespectacled CEO of Cambridge Analytica.
Kaiser became a prominent player in the expansive mission statement of defacing the statutes of her country’s democratic process. Her reputation was ultimately sold to the highest bidder.
My major gripe with the documentary is how it humanizes the villainous White woman who was smart enough to fully comprehend the serious consequences of her actions. She knew exactly what she was doing when she met with Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski at the notorious Trump Tower in 2015, and subsequently convinced the team to retain the services of Cambridge Analytica.
And yet when we first meet her, Brittany Kaiser is basking in the aftermath of the sinful indulgence that cost America more than it will ever recoup, as she partakes in the exoticness of a favored location, and casually offers witty one-liners to her inquisitor holding the camera, while splashing about in the infinity pool of a luxury hotel.
During the course of the film’s big reveals, we get glances of a woman who is clearly protected by the shield of her White privilege, as she expresses minimal regret for her questionable work ethic that supposedly took her from the admirable landscape of humanitarian efforts at the UN to the seedy gutter of Steve Bannon’s combustible propaganda machine.
Yep! The same Steve Bannon who groomed our Terrorizer-in-Chief with the deadly skill set that is currently exacting crime and punishment on a nation that’s under siege by the incurable disease of White nationalism.
Bannon and another filthy rich White dude invested enough capital into Cambridge Analytica with the hopes of reaping the the profitable returns that would restore the anthem of “White Power” in America. It would manifest from Trump’s toxic administration and the traitorous initiative known as Brexit, with the establishment of Leave.EU, which Kaiser was also a part of through the drafted proposal that she submitted.
The film’s handling of Kaiser, as the White woman who got entangled in the web of deception coerced by powerful White men, who recruited her youthful naivety for a purpose much bigger than her modest disposition could’ve possibly imagined, immediately recalls the criminally-inclined pursuits of another White woman, Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos; a fraudulent enterprise that never delivered on its premise and ended up putting innocent lives in peril.
Both these women are given the benefit of the doubt because of their Whiteness, and how that shields them from the blows of their poor decision-making skills that extend to those who fatefully trust their judgement.
As the film progresses we observe the activism of a previously harassed reporter, The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr, who documents her gratifying takedown of Cambridge Analytica, that doesn’t come without the online venom that threatens to derail her valiant fight for justice.
But Cadwalladr is a seasoned journalist who doesn’t cave to bullies, and so she trudges on, through the griminess of the tech world that displays how the human condition can be polluted and redirected to feed the beasts of gluttonous capabilities.
These traders construct the feast of data from “swing voters” otherwise known as “persuadables,” and the recorded behavioral patterns are doctored in ways that disable their ability to be consciously aware of how voting power is being deliberately manipulated.
The downfall of Cambridge Analytica with the help of Brittany Kaiser, who testified in front of members of the UK parliament, as a way to absolve herself from some of the guilt that she barely harbored, is just the beginning of what will be a very long and treacherous war between humans and the super-humans, who are enriched by the studiousness of the robots that were created to decode our existence.
The Great Hack is a condensed summary that presents the brutal assurance of how much worse it’s going to get as Silicon Valley continues to flourish in the playground of constructed chaos.
It’s a web of sinister characters with enough ammunition to outsource the endless supply of passwords and usernames, that are clicked into the surfaces, evolving into codes that turn a revered “world police” into the hotspot of domestic terrorism that places the United States on the list of travel advisories.
As we contend with the latest horrors of back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton OH, that were both formulated from the murderous wiles of White males with military weapons that should be regulated to battlefields instead of the entryway of Walmart — the current climate is absorbed in the vortex of a nationalized crisis that’s been commandeered by the mood swings of the designated hitman.
President Trump defeated his worthier contender, Hillary Clinton because of how we readily embraced the platforms that would bamboozle us with the falsities of our framed narratives.
The truth is that Mark Zuckerberg knew all along that we were being whored out to scheming entrepreneurs, who share the same brain cells as the soldiers of ruthless militant groups, and his complicity is the sore reminder of why data-driven platforms need to be avoided like the plague.
At this very moment, your Instagram stories are being re-configured by vetted advertising partners, Hype3r, who are using the information at their disposal to illegally track the exact locations of users with the help of published “stories” that provide the needle for stalking duties.
Once Business Insider broke the story, a cease-and-desist letter was sent to the seedy startup as a warning that detailed how the company broke the rules and policies of the Facebook-owned platform, and while that might be sufficient for now — it doesn’t bode well for the future.
And it’s compounded by the fact that President Trump is given the authority to break the rules and policies of his preferred weapon of terror — Twitter — without the disciplinary measures that keep ordinary users in check.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has demonstrated gross negligence when it comes to Trump’s daily tweets and retweets that contain violent content from the accounts of far-right extremists that the FBI and foreign governments have flagged as highly problematic.
It’s very telling that Trump’s account hasn’t been suspended, despite his insistence on sharing offensive footage that very clearly violate the requirements for a safe and combative-free zone, and yet the account that he borrowed from, “LYNN THOMAS” has been suspended “for breaking Twitter’s rules against using multiple accounts to artificially amplify or disrupt conversations.”
Imagine how utterly powerless our Thug-in-Chief would be if his account were shut down until further notice. His banishment would at the very least bring back the nation to some semblance of law and order, and secure the beginnings of the healing process for wearied citizens, who have earned the long-awaited break from the torment of their birthright.
But tech giants aren’t serious about cleaning up the mess at crime scenes that were staged to kill us.
That’s why we need to buckle up and prepare for the rollercoaster without seatbelts, that won’t stop until the revolt of our lifetime clicks back the power to the people who have been deprogrammed for the human interaction that needs to be rebooted for the survivability of mankind.
Until then — we are verifiably fucked.