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?

Credit: Credit: @katdaddddy / Twitter

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

Credit: @JohnSlavin9 / Twitter

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

Credit: @ishcontent / Twitter

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

Credit: @BrasilMagic / Twitter

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

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Gabriel Fernandez’s Mother, Pearl Fernandez, Is Trying to Have Her Murder Conviction Thrown Out

Things That Matter

Gabriel Fernandez’s Mother, Pearl Fernandez, Is Trying to Have Her Murder Conviction Thrown Out

Photos: State of California, Gabriel’s Justice/Facebook

Gabriel Fernandez’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, is trying to have her murder conviction thrown out. The 37-year-old woman has been in jail since 2018 for the murder and torture of her eight-year old son.

Pearl Fernandez is petitioning the court for resentencing, hoping to have her first-degree murder and/or second-degree murder charges thrown out.

Fernandez is hoping to have her sentence vacated based off of new changes to the California state penal code. “I think that she feels that somehow maybe, you know, the special circumstance will be dismissed or maybe she’ll have a chance that the D.A. will agree with the petition,” Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami said to CBSLA.

In June 2018, a judge sentenced Pearl Fernandez to life without parole. The judge charged Pearl Fernandez with the 2013 torture and killing of her eight-year-old son, Gabriel Fernandez.

On May 22, 2013, Gabriel Fernandez died after suffering a fatal beating from his mother. Pearl Fernandez was allegedly angry that he didn’t clean up his toys.

The details of Pearl and her boyfriend’s lengthy torture campaign against Gabriel Fernandez are both gruesome and numerous. Over the course of his eight-month stay with Isauro Aguirre, the couple broke his bones, burned him with cigarettes, pepper-sprayed him, and forced him to eat his own vomit as well as animal feces. And that is just a short-list of what they did.

The case came to national attention after the release of the 2020 Netflix documentary, “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez“. The documentary shone a spotlight on the insidious nature of child abuse. It also highlighted the systematic failures of the social services system that fails to protect children.

Elected officials have expressed their disgust at Pearl Fernandez for trying to escape justice by taking advantage of updated laws.

“The policies and directives from my office and these new laws created by the Legislature are emboldening murderers of children to apply to be re-sentenced,” said Deputy DA Hatami to City News Service. “This is completely unfair to the surviving families and their loved ones.”

He continued: “Families now have to relive all the horror that was perpetrated upon a small and helpless child. Based upon all the evidence presented at the grand jury, which was made public, and the jury trial, Pearl Fernandez was a major participant in the torture and murder of little Gabriel.”

It seems obvious by the fact that Pearl Fernandez is trying to get out of jail after torturing her son to death, that she isn’t remorseful about her actions.

Any other mother who killed her son would probably want to spend the rest of her life in jail instead of trying to find a way to get out of it.

If you believe someone you know is experiencing–or committing–child abuse, there are resources to help. Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. Staying vigilant could help save a child like Gabriel Fernandez.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Regé-Jean Page Is Leaving ‘Bridgerton’ and We’re Devastated

Entertainment

Regé-Jean Page Is Leaving ‘Bridgerton’ and We’re Devastated

Courtesy Netflix

There is some very bad news for “Bridgerton” fans. On Friday, Netflix announced that Regé-Jean Page is not returning for the second season of the smash-hit Shondaland series. Regé-Jean Page played the dashing Duke Simon Basset in the first season.

Netflix told the world that Regé-Jean Page would not be returning to “Bridgerton” via a statement written in the voice of Lady Whistledown.

“While all eyes turn to Lord Anthony Bridgerton’s quest to find a Viscountess, we bid adieu to Regé-Jean Page, who so triumphantly played the Duke of Hastings. We’ll miss Simon’s presence onscreen, but he will always be a part of the Bridgerton family,” Lady Whistledown wrote.

They also added: “Daphne will remain a devoted wife and sister, helping her brother navigate the upcoming social season and what it has to offer – more intrigue and romance than my readers may be able to bear.”

Apparently, it was Regé-Jean Page’s decision not to return to the multicultural costume drama.

Although the role of duke Simon Basset shot Page to stardom, he feels that it’s now time for him to move onto bigger and better things. In an interview with Variety, Page said that Bridgerton producers always told him that his role would be a “one-season arc” with a “beginning, middle, end”.

“[I thought] ‘That’s interesting,’ because then it felt like a limited series,” said Page. “I get to come in, I get to contribute my bit and then the Bridgerton family rolls on.”

According to Bridgerton producers, the next season will largely revolve around Anthony Bridgerton (played by Jonathan Bailey) as he tries to nab the love of his life.

Unfortunately, that storyline doesn’t seem quite as appealing to Bridgerton fans who loved to stare at Regé-Jean Page’s face for hours on end.

“Well, not sure what the point of watching this now,” said one disgruntled Twitter user. “We all know that Simon was the reason why most of us were watching this :/”

Fans of the book series, however, were much quicker to jump to Regé-Jean Page’s defense.

“Guys, each season is about one brother/sister, first season was about Daphne, second season will be about Anthony!” wrote another fan. “Simon won’t be the main character as he was. Accept Anthony and Kate [the new love interest]”. They added later: “The name [of the show] is ‘Bridgerton’ not Duke of Hastings.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com