Entertainment

The Alarming Issues Raised In ‘The Great Hack’ Will Keep You Up At Night

It’s become so common to see Facebook and Instagram ads pop-up after doing a Google search for a pair of shoes, a restaurant or headphones, that there are memes around the lack of privacy we face for being online. It doesn’t bother us. There’s an underlying attitude of “this is the price we pay for the convenience of an interconnected world.” “The Great Hack,” a documentary on the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal, takes a sledgehammer to this passive way of thinking. 

The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and was recently added to Netflix’s streaming service.

It opens with a scene of Brittany Kaiser at what is implied to be Burning Man, a weeklong festival held in the middle of the Nevada desert and founded on the principles of sustainability, civil responsibility, and inclusion. The voiceover introduces Kaiser as a former Obama intern who went on to become a director at Cambridge Analytica—a company working exclusively with Conservatives and linked to the success of Trump, Brexit, and other far-right political parties. 

Kaiser is a complicated figure. Her resume begins with positions associated with idealism and the Democratic Party, who ended up working to undermine democracy. She turned whistleblower—a label former colleagues scoff at—under a cloud of suspicion. Most people asked, “what’s in it for her?” When she’s asked outright about her evolution she says “None of them [referring to Obama and Hillary Clinto] ever wanted to offer to pay me…you have to work for people who pay you.” She references her family’s financial troubles as the trigger for accepting a job with Cambridge Analytica.

Next comes David Carroll, a media professor at Parsons School of Design.

Carroll filed a legal claim against the London-based data company to gain access to the information they collected on him. To date, Cambridge Analytica has refused to comply.

Carole Cadwalladr is another player introduced in the film.

Credit: thegreathack / Instagram

She is a British investigative journalist who began to unravel the relationship between the tech giant and consulting company. When she raised the alarm around the alarming connection between Cambridge Analytica and Brexit, similar fake-news harassment was turned on her. The movie runs a video featuring a scene from Airplane! where a line of slap and beat a woman who has Cadwalladr’s face superimposed. The last person in line is shown with a gun.

The movie explains how a one-click personality test with questions like “I prefer to be left alone,” and “I have a rich inner world,” built a psychological profile of the user, and allowed them to be manipulated for political gains. The test was designed by University of Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan, and its findings were sold to Cambridge Analytica. 

They complied to delete the data at the request of Facebook, but the movie captures Kaiser going through old emails and finding data sets weeks after Cambridge Analytica said they had erased them.

How did we get here?

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The film repeatedly asks how the dream of a connected world tore us apart and has created a world where people like Carroll are fighting to make data rights, a human right. To better understand what went down in the 2016 election and how digital is affecting our democracy, it’s worth the watch. Knowing what is being collected about us shouldn’t be a secret—especially when other businesses profit off that intel. 

In the meantime, here’s a cheat sheet.

Giving Up Access To Your Data Isn’t Entirely Your Fault—Or In Your Control

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Kogan offered Cambridge Analytica data from apps that were given special permission to harvest information. The film highlights how simply being Facebook friends with someone, who granted a third-party vendor access to their profile, could have caused your data to leak. These apps pulled from the person granting access, and in the process created an entry point for the data company to harvest from their friend’s network. If you were friends with someone using this app, data could be pulled without your permission or realization. It wasn’t just public information—they also mine from private messages to build data profiles on users. 

Cambridge Analytica Bombarded “Persuables” With Content They Couldn’t Ignore

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In order to mobilize swing voters, and ground the opposition, Cambridge Analytica took the data they found and focused on a small population who could be persuaded to back their clients. They called this population the “persuadables.” People like Kaiser talk about “pulling levers” to activate their base. These people were pummeled with inflammatory content on Facebook, YouTube, Google, and WhatsApp. The images, videos, and language used positioned Hillary Clinton as an evil crook, said a Cambridge Analytica exec who admitted on-camera in an undercover expose by a British news outlet. 

It wasn’t just all right-wing content. People labeled as liberals received the same treatment with Black Lives Matter content and stories focused on police brutality. The deception happened both ways.

Oil is No Longer the Most Lucrative Industry

Credit: @AndreaLoken / Twitter

According to Carroll, data mining has become a trillion-dollar industry. Kaiser says data has surpassed oil as the most valuable commodity and industry. They both make a case for protecting the information out there. Kaiser even argues it should be treated and protected like real estate. 

“This is not a partisan issue,” Cadwalladr argues. 

It’s Still Unclear What Data Was Collected And Who Was Targeted

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At the film’s close, Carroll still hasn’t been given the information Cambridge Analytica collected on him. Speaking at the European Parliament, Carroll testifies that the pool of people targeted, who they were and the extent to which their data was used for is still unknown. What is clear is that the vendor’s business model works and has the ability to impact a mass population. 

“In the U.S. only about 70,000 voters in three different states decided the [2016] election,” he says. 

Kaiser Admits Data Targeting is a ‘Weapons Grade Communications Tactic’

Credit: @dens / Twitter

At the British Parliament, Kaiser offers testimony classifying Cambridge Analytica’s work as an industry regulated by the British government due to the severity of consequences associated with its use.

READ: Ted Cruz Couldn’t Have Been Expecting This When He Showed Up For His Flight At LAX

The Trailer For ‘In The Heights’ Is Finally Here And It Looks Like A Latino Fairytale

Entertainment

The Trailer For ‘In The Heights’ Is Finally Here And It Looks Like A Latino Fairytale

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In the final weeks at the end of a decade that began with promises of a film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Broadway musical, “In The Heights.” Well, the full trailer is finally here and it’s more rico than we could have imagined. Fans have been waiting for the movie since 2008 when Universal Pictures announced their plans to adapt the musical for theaters by 2011. Universal canceled the project. Big mistake. Huge. Then, The Weinstein Company gained rights to the film. After Harvey Weinstein was canceled due to heinous sexual misconduct, Lin-Manuel Miranda removed Weinstein from the credits in 2017. Finally, Warner Bros won the rights to the movie in 2018 and finally, finally, a decade later, the trailer is here, and it’s delicious. It’s no accident that the trailer begins with the voice of a young girl asking, “What does suenito mean?” Each frame and verse will inflate your heart with the immense weight of hope that our immigrant parents and many of us carry to this day in America. Anthony Ramos answers la niña’s question: “Suenito? It means “little dream.” 

“That’s it? No story?” another little boy asks Ramos’ character, Usnavi de la Vega. 

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“Alright, alright everybody sit down,” Usnavi tells the children on what seems like the beaches of the Dominican Republic. “It’s a story of a block that was disappearing,” he tells the children, “En un barrio called Washington Heights. The streets were made of music.” 

As the music begins to play, the trailer swells to fast cuts, showing countless scenes and characters.

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We see Usnavi, named after the first thing his Dominican parents saw as they arrived in America – a ship with the sign US Navy open up his bodega and lock eyes with beautiful Vanessa, played by Starz’s Vida, Melissa Barrera. “These blocks, you can’t walk two steps without walking into someone’s big plan,” Corey Hawkins, who plays Benny, says. The trailer promises to be a story of a neighborhood full of dreams. “A dream isn’t a sparkly diamond. There’s no shortcuts. Sometimes, it’s rough,” Ramos tells the children.

Olga Merediz powerfully reprises her role of Abuela Claudia.

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“We have to assert our dignity in small ways. Little details that tell the world we are not invisible,” Claudia softly touches a traditionally embroidered tea towel as she confides in another woman. If you’ve had the privilege of watching the musical, you know how Claudia’s story goes. For the rest of you, we won’t spoil it. Rest assured that the massive production of the film does Abuela Claudia justice, as we see velas lighting the streets as neighbors raise their hands and march in her honor.

Miranda’s America in the early 2000s is far different from 2019 America, and it seems that Abuela Claudia may face a different fate in the film adaptation.

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“They’re talking about kicking out all the dreamers. It’s time to make some noise,” Gregory Diaz, who plays Usnavi’s cousin, Sonny de la Vega, calls his neighborhood to action. “This is going to be an emotional rollercoaster. The odds are against you,” we hear a lawyer tell Usnavi and Sonny. “But there’s a chance right?” Usnavi asks. From there, the trailer erupts into dance and song as we hear Ramos rap, “We came to work and to live here. We got a lot in common. DR, PR, we are not stopping until the day we go from poverty to stock options.” Intermingled we hear Merediz belt, “Every day, paciencia y fe” Usnavi and Vanessa dance in a club, a group of dancers perform in a classic Washington Heights fountain at the heat of summer, and the trailer’s final words: “Today’s all we got so we cannot stop, this is our block!” 

Fans are actually weeping at the release of the long-awaited trailer.

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NPR Latino’s head journalist Maria Hinojosa tweeted, “I AM WATCHING ON REPEAT stuck on my plane and I can’t stop CRYING 😭❤️✊🏽!!!!” Another fan asks, “Why am I crying at a trailer??” while another says, “I might be full on bawling right now I can’t wait for this.” “Hydrants are open!!!!” tweets another knowing Washington Heights resident. This daughter of a Nuyorican is right there with y’all. 

“In the Heights” comes to theaters on June 26, 2020.

You’ll have to hold onto more paciencia y fe as we count the days until we can sneak mofongo and arroz con gandules into the theaters and watch Lin-Manuel Miranda’s student project come to life on the big screen. When Miranda makes it, we all make it.

READ: We Finally Got A Peek At Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Casting Picks For ‘In The Heights’ The Play That Made Him Famous

J.Lo Has Been Nominated For A Golden Globe For Best Supporting Actress For ‘Hustlers’

Entertainment

J.Lo Has Been Nominated For A Golden Globe For Best Supporting Actress For ‘Hustlers’

jlo / hustlersmovie / Instagram

Jennifer Lopez has been an acting treasure since she portrayed Selena in 1997. Her role in “Hustlers” has received praise since the movie was released earlier this year with a lot of Oscar buzz. Now, it seems more and more likely that J.Lo will get a highly coveted Oscar nomination as other nominations are starting to roll in and she is so excited.

The first award nomination that came in was from the Critics’ Choice Awards.

Credit: @JLo / Twitter

The Critics’ Choice Awards is presented annually by the American-Canadian Broadcast Film Critics Association. J.Lo is competing in the category against Laura Dern in “Marriage Story,” Scarlett Johansson “Jojo Rabbit,” Florence Pugh “Little Women,” Margot Robbie in “Bombshell,” and Zhao Shuzhen “The Farewell.”

J.Lo really lit up when she was informed that she was nominated for the Golden Globes.

“Hi, guys! I’m just waking up and I just heard that I got nominated for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for a Golden Globe. Oh my God,” J.Lo said in a video shared on social media to her fans. “It’s been 20 years since I was nominated for ‘Selena.’ I just want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for this incredible honor. I am humbled and so excited to be recognized for this role as Ramona in ‘Hustlers.’ Thank you so much and I’ll see you at the Globes.”

Of course, the always attentive and supportive AROD was there to shoot his own behind the scenes video of her recording her video.

AROD has been a supporting partner in J.Lo’s career since the two got together. He is there at her concerts backstage to pick her up and give her praise. He has accompanied her to award shows and showered her with love and appreciation for the work she does as an entertainer, mother, partner, and human being. Tbh, AROD is simply the best partner anyone could ask for.

Fans are so excited to see their favorite person getting such incredible honors for her work in “Hustlers.”

“Hustlers,” for those who haven’t seen it, follows a group of women who use drugs and finesse to get money from clients at a popular strip club. The women take things a bit too far and everything starts to unravel and Ramona, the ringleader, tries her best to keep all of the women in check before things get too real.

Fans are showering the singer and actress with love and praise for her nominations.

Credit: @jlo_truelover / Twitter

There’s been a lot of Oscar buzz since the movie was released and the buzz is only getting stronger. J.Lo gave a powerful and compelling performance as a stripper breaking the law to make sure she and her friends are all taken care of financially. It is a story of a group of strippers playing Robin Hood with some of Wall Street’s biggest earners and how it all falls apart.

If the trend continues, it won’t be long until we see J.Lo winning some awards this season.

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Congratulations, J.Lo. Good luck during award season!

Watch the trailer for “Hustlers” below!

Don’t miss out on watching what is proving to be a powerful film about financial inequality and the lengths people will go to make their lives better.

READ: Critics Think Jennifer Lopez Gave An Oscar-Worthy Performance In ‘Hustlers’