Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every Friday, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.
The Democracy Double Feature: The Great Hack/The Social Dilemma
We don’t know about you, but after watching the nuclear implosion that was this week’s Presidential Debate, we feel a bit exhausted…not to mention nervous about the election just one month away. As such, we’re doing something a bit different at this week’s Weekend Binge, offering up a double feature of two films that go a long way to explaining our current situation.
The Great Hack chronicles the fall of Cambridge Analytica, the data company that partnered with Facebook to analyze the personal data of millions of users with the express purpose of targeting political ads. Analytica later partnered with the 2016 Trump Campaign, the pro-Brexit group Leave.EU, and most troublingly, Russian oil company Lukoil (which was later revealed to have turned data over to the Russian government for the purpose of manipulating the 2016 election). Gay activist and former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie blew the whistle on the company, which resulted in a major scandal, congressional testimony and the blood-curdling revelation that fringe groups and foreign governments had engaged in psychological warfare on the American public through manipulation of social media.
The scandal continues in The Social Dilemma, another film which further details how social media–especially Facebook–often inadvertently–created our current polarized climate through its engagement algorithms. The movie explains that social media is programmed to show ads and stories to maximize user engagement. In simple terms, social media tells its users what it thinks they want to hear based on past activity, the activity of friends, neighbors, people living in the same cities, and so on. For users that tend to get their news from social media such as Facebook, that creates a reality based on user action, not simple facts.
Couple these to films together, and the ongoing mess of fake news, “alternative facts,” conspiracy theories and political chaos suddenly makes a lot more sense. Both films should be required viewing for the civic-minded, or anyone who’s ever used social media in the first place. We’d also add a final thought, written total sincerity: your future may depend on it.
Both films stream on Netflix.