What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever Googled? If it’s worse than a Phil Collins Best Of album or anything medical, you have Nice 2 Hack You to fear.
In short, Nice 2 Hack You is an app created by Rajeev Basu and band Big Data which hacks into your browser history to reveal “interesting sites” (read: embarrassing history) in exchange for rewards. “Our special algorithm targets “interesting sites” in your browser history, and is specially engineered to uncover subjects like porn, relationships/dating, medical diagnosis, guilty pleasure TV and music, and more,” Rajeev Basu, the brains behind the idea, explains. “It’s then up to you whether you share your results. If you do, great – you could win Big Data prizes. And if you don’t, why not? What do you have to hide?”
Rajeev, who works at Wieden + Kennedy’s New York branch by day and directs some of the best and weirdest video work we’ve ever seen by night, worked with Big Data to bring the idea to fruition – an inspired and absolutely limitless creative duo. Obviously we had a chat with them to find out what we should be deleting.
What made you decide to start the project?
Big Data: The project was conceived and built by Rajeev Basu, a longtime collaborator and co-conspirator of Big Data. It was inspired by my song, The Business of Emotion, which was itself inspired by the notorious Facebook mood experiments that came to light in 2013. In a broader sense, the song deals with the issues of mass data collection, and the mistreatment of our personal information.
Rajeev Basu: Big Data are good friends of mine. We previously collaborated to make Facehawk (which hijacks your Facebook, blows it up, and turns it into a hawk). This year, for the new album, we wanted to do something different.
Every day there’s another major data breach, or corporate hacking scandal. We’re all in it right now more than ever. And so while everyone is rushing to protect their privacy at all costs, it seemed like a fun idea to see if we could get people to willingly give up their privacy altogether.
"Every day there's another major data breach, or corporate hacking scandal... And so while everyone is rushing to protect their privacy at all costs, it seemed like a fun idea to see if we could get people to willingly give up their privacy altogether."Rajeev Basu
How important is it for internet users to question where our data goes?
Big Data: In the post-Snowden era, it should come as no surprise to anyone that our data is being exploited regularly. It is important for internet users to be mindful of those exploitative purposes and to take steps to be more protective.
Rajeev Basu: Although it’s serious, all this privacy talk is a bit of dry topic. It’s like having to read terms and conditions, and we all know how fun that is. Hopefully, with Nice 2 Hack You we can make people think a little bit about it all but in a more fun and engaging way.
How do you see the app progressing next?
Big Data: A large motivator for the app (and behind Big Data, in general) is to make art out of mass data collection. There is a certain empowerment that comes with the open acknowledgment of one’s online activity, and hopefully if enough people try N2HU, we’ll be able to make something fun out of the larger results.