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These Modern Technology Documentaries Bring Interesting Ideas to a Broader Audience

One of the best things about the move towards streaming in media is that since people love watching real-life stories, studios have committed to creating documentary content that provides interesting perspectives. Many people don’t have a comprehensive understanding of technology, especially as it relates to real-world situations, so dramatized documentaries can be a good source of information. Today, we’re going to go through three riveting technology documentaries that are available on streaming services.

The Social Dilemma (2020)
Social media is one of the most important technologies developed over the past couple of decades. As with any transformative technology, the practices developed early on by developers to monetize seemingly “free” services have a major impact on users and the monstrous social media space as a whole. A saying that is repeated several times throughout the movie is, “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”

The filmmakers use one-on-one interviews as well as actors who play roles that are supposed to represent an average family and their use of social media. This gives the viewer multiple perspectives to understand the documentary’s central theme: that social media is a new market with a much different business plan than any other that has come before it: what is called surveillance capitalism. 

The documentary does an amazing job of explaining how social media negatively affects personal value, society, and other issues without the billions of users on these platforms even knowing that they are being manipulated at every turn. The Social Dilemma was directed by Jeff Orlowski and is available for streaming on Netflix. 

The Great Hack (2019)
The Great Hack isn’t about hackers, per se. It’s about the case of Cambridge Analytica, a company set up to mine data and manipulate people into changing how they look at the world. Centered around a pair of whistleblowers, the documentary tells the story about how the company unethically obtained a load of Facebook data to provide powerful clients the information they required to manipulate public policy.

The scandal was at the heart of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and the British exit from the European Union (Brexit). The Great Hack sheds light on the ethical implications of data privacy breaches and the dangers of unchecked data manipulation through interviews with former employees, whistleblowers, journalists, and academics. The film raises important questions about the power of technology companies, the role of social media in shaping public opinion, and the need for greater transparency and regulation of these massive technology companies. 

The Great Hack was directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim and is available for streaming on Netflix. 

Deep Web (2015)
The Internet is much larger than the typical person experiences. Alex Winter, one of the great documentary filmmakers of contemporary cinema, explores the deep web in his 2015 film of the same name. The film features many issues, including the ethical use of technology, the dissolution of the Silk Road, a notorious illicit marketplace found on the deep web, and Bitcoin, the infamous cryptocurrency so often used in cybercrime.

The film explores the events leading up to the trial of Ross Ulbricht, the originator of the Silk Road, through the lens of his capture, the trial, and the immediate aftermath. In doing so, it serves as a historical account of what would soon be a common enough occurrence to be a part of the zeitgeist.

Deep Web was directed by Alex Winter and is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

This is just a taste of the many documentaries discussing today’s technology and its intricacies in daily life. We encourage you to view these titles and continue exploring to learn more.

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