Julia Angwin

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Julia Angwin
Julia Angwin (2018).png
Angwin in 2018
Alma materUniversity of Chicago (BA)
Columbia University (MBA Graduate School of Business)
OccupationInvestigative journalist, Senior reporter, Co-founder of The Markup

Julia Angwin is an American investigative journalist,[1] co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Markup. She was a senior reporter at ProPublica until April 2018[2] and staff reporter at the New York bureau of The Wall Street Journal from 2000 to 2013. Angwin is author of non-fiction books, Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America (2009) and Dragnet Nation (2014).[3]

The Markup[edit]

In April 2018, Angwin and Jeff Larson left ProPublica to found The Markup, described on their website as a "nonpartisan, nonprofit newsroom" that will produce "data-centered journalism" to uncover "societal harms of technology".[4] They were joined by Sue Gardner, as a co-founder, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and several ProPublica staff members.[5][6] Harvard-University-based NiemanLab described Angwin and Larson as a "journalist-programmer team" at ProPublica who uncovered stories such as "how algorithms are biased".[7]

In April 2019, she was dismissed from the Markup.[8] Five of the seven editorial staff immediately resigned in support of her, and over 145 journalists and researchers signed a letter of support.[8] In August, she was reinstated in her role as editor-in-chief and The Markup was reformed with the original editorial staff.[9]

Wall Street Journal[edit]

Angwin was a Wall Street Journal staff reporter based at their New York bureau covering business and technology for thirteen years from 2000 to 2013, when she left for ProPublica.[10] In their review of Dragnet Nation, The Economist, wrote that Angwin, beginning in 2010, had overseen Wall Street Journal's "pioneering series" entitled "What They Know" which exposed how privacy was being eroded with most people completely unaware that it was happening.[11] While at the Wall Street Journal, in 2010, Angwin wrote about how Google's co-founders, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt disagreed on the development of Google Chrome with Schmidt opposing the idea because of potential "browser wars".[12] A November 23, 2009 article by Angwin and Geoffrey A. Fowler, entitled "Volunteers Log Off as Wikipedia Ages" on the "unprecedented numbers of the millions" of Wikipedia editors that were quitting, was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.[13] She shared the 2011 Gerald Loeb Award for Online Enterprise for the story "What They Know".[14]


Angwin was a senior reporter and investigative journalist at ProPublica, that was described by The New York Times as "big tech's scariest watchdog."[15] In 2016, Angwin was lead author of an article revealing machine bias against black people in criminal risk assessment that used machine learning systems.[7]

In a 2016 article entitled "Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking", Angwin revealed that Google had changed its privacy policy allowing Google to merge users' personally identifiable information. Following publication of her article, Google announced that this precluded advertisement targeting through Gmail keywords.[16]

She shared the 2018 Gerald Loeb Award for Beat Reporting for the story "Automating Hate".[17]


Angwin is the author of Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America[18] and Dragnet Nation.[3] In his New York Times "Sunday Book Review" of Stealing MySpace, Michael Agger described Angwin's "meticulously" detailed description of Rupert Murdoch's purchase of MySpace in 2005 from Intermix Media despite competition from News Corp and Viacom, as "so granular that it passes through boring into surreal."[19] The Washington Post's Scott Rosenberg compared Stealing MySpace to Kara Swisher's There Must be a Pony in Here Somewhere: The AOL Time Warner debacle and the quest for the digital future.[20][21] The Economist,[11] Kirkus Reviews,[22] and the Los Angeles Times gave Dragnet Nation favorable reviews.[23]

In a 2014 interview with Bill Moyers about Dragnet Nation, Angwin described reporters as "prime targets for Internet snooping" and "the canary in the coal mine" of internet privacy - the first to feel the "impact of total surveillance". She said that as "watch dogs for democracy", journalists need to protect their sources.[10] In a 2014 interview with Kirkus Reviews's Neha Sharma, Angwin said that she had become aware of data scraping while researching Stealing MySpace. To protect her own digital content, she began using Tails.[1]

Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting[edit]

In 2003 Angwin was one of The Wall Street Journal's staff reporters whose stories on the history and impact of corporate scandals in the United States, were acknowledged with a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.


  1. ^ a b Sharma, Neha (February 14, 2014). "Reclaiming Privacy in An Age of Hyper-Sharing". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  2. ^ "Julia Angwin". Profiles. ProPublica. nd. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Angwin, Julia (February 25, 2014). Dragnet Nation: A quest for privacy, security, and freedom in a world of relentless surveillance. Times Books. pp. 304. ISBN 978-0805098075.
  4. ^ "Ethics Policy". The Markup. September 23, 2018. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  5. ^ Schmidt, Christine (September 24, 2018). "Watch out, algorithms: Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson unveil The Markup, their plan for investigating tech's societal impacts". Nieman Journalism Lab (NiemanLab) Nieman Foundation for Journalism Harvard University. Cambridge, Mass. Retrieved September 24, 2018. Journalists in every field need to have more skills to investigate those types of decision-making that are embedded in technology.
  6. ^ Bowles, Nellie (September 23, 2018). "News Site to Investigate Big Tech, Helped by Craigslist Founder". The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Angwin, Julia; Larson, Jeff; Kirchner, Lauren; Mattu, Surya (May 23, 2016). "Machine Bias". ProPublica. Retrieved September 24, 2018. There's software used across the country to predict future criminals. And it's biased against blacks.
  8. ^ a b "Here's what happened inside The Markup". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  9. ^ "The Markup". The Markup. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  10. ^ a b Bill Moyers (March 14, 2014). "No Escaping Dragnet Nation". Moyers & Company. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Online privacy: Watching the watchers". The Economist. March 1, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  12. ^ "Sun Valley: Schmidt Didn't Want to Build Chrome Initially, He Says". WSJ Digits Blog. July 9, 2009. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  13. ^ Angwin, Julia; Fowler, Geoffrey A. (November 23, 2009). "Volunteers Log Off as Wikipedia Ages". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  14. ^ "Loeb Award Winners". UCLA Anderson School of Management. June 28, 2011. Archived from the original on April 1, 2019. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  15. ^ Schwab, Katharine (February 16, 2018). "How ProPublica Became Big Tech's Scariest Watchdog". Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  16. ^ Angwin, Julia (October 21, 2016). "Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking: Google is the latest tech company to drop the longstanding wall between anonymous online ad tracking and user's names". ProPublica. Archived from the original on November 27, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  17. ^ "UCLA Anderson School of Management Announces 2018 Gerald Loeb Award Winners". PR Newswire. June 25, 2018. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  18. ^ Angwin, Julia (March 17, 2009). Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America. Random House. pp. 384. ISBN 1400066948.
  19. ^ Agger, Michael (April 16, 2009). "Dude, Murdoch Friended Us!". Sunday Book Review. The New York Times. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  20. ^ Swisher, Kara (October 2003). There Must be a Pony in Here Somewhere: The AOL Time Warner debacle and the quest for the digital future. Crown Business. pp. 320. ISBN 1400049636. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  21. ^ Rosenberg, Scott (March 15, 2009). "Book Review: 'Stealing MySpace: The Battle To Control the Most Popular Website in America' by Julia Angwin". Washington Post. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  22. ^ "Dragnet Nation by Julia Angwin". Kirkus Reviews. February 25, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  23. ^ Silverman, Jacob (March 6, 2014). "'Dragnet Nation' looks at the hidden systems that are always looking at you". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles: Tribune Co. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved September 24, 2018.