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Hacking Hate

Farhad Dalal
Farhad Dalal
4 Star popcorn reviewss


We are at the final leg of the Tribeca Film Festival, and it has been a chaotic but extremely fulfilling week of discovering cinema and films from across the globe! And so my final review from the festival, I decided to handpick a film, Hacking Hate that had won the Best Documentary at the festival. I must admit that I had no plans of covering it previously, nor did I know what the documentary stood for, and that honestly, was the beauty of discovering cinema from a complete neutral standpoint.

We live in a world where the power tussle has reached its absolute pinnacle with multiple nations wishing to rule on the back of extremism. The same can be traced back to social media where there is little to no governance on hate speeches which account for alarming signs of the future that seems straight out of a Black Mirror episode. As a result, social media that ought to have been a boon to voice our opinions, has been reduced to a tool for influencing people giving rise to atrocious new professions like an Influenzer. These folks use their subscriber base to influence jobless youth by making them believe that their reality is indeed under threat by a ‘known’ clan. In other words, these are rather dangerous times that we live in, something that the documentary Hacking Hate wishes to address, does it manage to impress, let’s find out.

The Good

Hacking Hate follows the story of an investigative journalist who goes undercover to expose a network of neo-Nazis spewing hate and inducing violence on Jews(and other folks) through hate speeches via the social media. The topic of concern addressed here is supremely relevant and also dangerous in this documentary that acts as an eye-opener. The social media has potentially seeped through the inner psyche of the masses, often targeting youth through memes to change their mindset and spew hatred towards the other community. What this documentary does, is provide a real case study featuring a journalist who is willing to put her neck on the line to expose this network. Through frequent links and references, the documentary is also disturbing in many ways even as an actual video of a gunman is introduced while blacking out the screen to the sound of gunshots. Terrifying indeed!

The documentary also goes beyond the realms of an unknown case(given how common the occurence of the issue is in the times that we live in) by boldly accounting for the influence of Donald Trump in the world of social media. Not only were the social media policies tweaked to accomodate his tweet initially, but it also empowered people around the globe to indulge in hate speeches. The role of an influenzer was also highlighted effected in convincing and blinding people from the truth, even as the hate percentage of the world is on the rise. The truth and the discovery of the identities of the pawns in the game was startling to say the least, all of which infuriated me even as a list of countries and their leaders were showcased who were known to divide the country on the basis of hate(and guess who also made it to the list, surprise, surprise?). All of this accounted for an intriguing documentary which definitely was an eye-opener of sorts.

The Not So Good

I feel the structure of this documentary is itself a niche, oscillating between the main plot of the journalist faking an identity to go undercover and expose the network, while the other included the role of Donald Trump in manipulating and influencing the emotions of the people. So, I can totally see people being thrown off by it given that a building tension in a plot is suddenly abandoned for the other side of the story. I will also like to highlight how this documentary that wishes to punch up, would ruffle a few feathers of folks who may not want to invest in the ideology of this documentary(and I can totally see them dismissing it). These aren’t exactly demerits of the documentary itself but more against the thinking of people who refuse to believe the unsaid trauma that the world is going through.

My Take

It is a reality that social media has played an important role in triggering violence. While the social media has often been pivotal in highlighting the ‘truth’ behind a few incidents(something that continues to remain oblivious in the mainstream media), it cannot be denied that the onset of memes has penetrated the psyche of a large chunk of the youth who are at an impressionable age. And hence, it is upto the folks around them to educate them that not everything that they see on social media is true, and that if a fact check isn’t done, then the news itself holds no relevance. How often do we see Whatsapp forwards spewing hatred either by manipulating the identity of individuals or just triggering the sentiments of a particular community. So the responsibility of curtailing it lies with us given that none of the social media companies look to regulate them. It is now or never! So no forwarding whatsapp messages blindly from now or empowering hatred towards anyone or any community? Are we ready to adapt and learn? Only time will tell!


As a part of our Tribeca Film Festival coverage(for the final time this year), Hacking Hate is a shocking documentary addressing the power of social media extremism that makes for a brilliantly poignant watch, needless to say a relevant one too.

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