Julia Angwin

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Julia Angwin
Angwin in 2020
Alma materUniversity of Chicago (BA)
Columbia University (MBA Graduate School of Business)
Occupation(s)Investigative journalist, Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Markup
AwardsPulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting

Julia Angwin is an American investigative journalist, author, and entrepreneur. She co-founded and was editor-in-chief of The Markup, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates the impact of technology on society. She was a staff reporter at the New York bureau of The Wall Street Journal from 2000 to 2013, during which time she was on a team that won the Pulitzer Prize in journalism.[1] She worked as a senior reporter at ProPublica from 2014 to April 2018, during which time she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.[2][3]

Angwin is author of two non-fiction books, Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America (2009) and Dragnet Nation (2014).[4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Julia Angwin was born in Champaign, Illinois, to university professor parents who moved to Silicon Valley in 1974 to work in the emerging personal computer industry. She grew up in Palo Alto, where she learned to code in the 5th grade.[6] During summers, she worked at the Hewlett-Packard Demo Center in Cupertino.[7] Angwin graduated from the University of Chicago in 1992 with a B.A. in mathematics.[8] She was named a Knight-Bagehot Fellow at Columbia Journalism School in 1998.[9] She then completed her MBA at Columbia University with a concentration in accounting in 1999.[10]


Angwin speaking at a Wikipedia event at the Columbia Journalism School in 2024

Angwin got her start in journalism as an undergrad at The University of Chicago where she served as editor-in-chief of the college newspaper, the The Chicago Maroon, from 1991 to 1992.[11] Upon graduation she moved to California where she worked briefly as a business writer for the Contra Costa Times.[12] She then moved to Washington D.C., to work as a reporter for States News Service covering Congress for regional newspapers.[13]

In 1996 she joined the San Francisco Chronicle as a technology reporter, where her coverage of the software industry included several stories of the Justice Department lawsuit against Microsoft.[14] She also led an investigation that revealed how few Blacks and Latinos were employed in Silicon Valley companies and that many leading tech firms had been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor for affirmative action violations.[15]

In 2000, The Wall Street Journal hired her as a staff reporter covering business and technology from their New York bureau. During her 13 years at the Journal, Angwin broke stories, led important investigations, and published numerous exposes into the growing tech sector.[16]

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.[17]

From 2010 to 2013, she led an investigative team that published the groundbreaking, including the Wall Street Journal's pioneering "What They Know," series which exposed how privacy was being eroded with most people completely unaware that it was happening.[18]

In 2014, Angwin left The Wall Street Journal to join the investigative, nonprofit newsroom ProPublica as a senior reporter and investigative journalist. In 2016, Angwin was lead author of an article revealing machine bias against Black people in criminal risk assessment that used machine learning systems.[19]

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.[20]

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".[21] They were joined by Sue Gardner, as a co-founder, and several ProPublica staff members.[22][23] Harvard University–based NiemanLab described Angwin and Larson as a "journalist-programmer team" at ProPublica who uncovered stories such as "how algorithms are biased".[19]

In support of The Markup's mission to investigate technology and its effect on society, Craig Newmark committed $20 million to the publication alongside philanthropic gifts from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative, a joint project of the MIT Media Lab and the Harvard Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society.[23]

In April 2019, she was dismissed from The Markup.[24] Five of the seven editorial staff immediately resigned in support of her, and over 145 journalists and researchers signed a letter of support.[24] In August, she was reinstated in her role as editor-in-chief and The Markup was reformed with the original editorial staff.[25]

In the following months, Angwin was joined by a new leadership team including public radio veteran, Evelyn Larrubia as managing editor, and free speech lawyer, Nabiha Syed, as president. The Markup began publishing on February 25, 2020, with a staff of 17 reporters, editors and engineers.[26] Since its launch, the site has published numerous investigations examining issues like data privacy, disinformation, and algorithmic bias, and the role that the internet's most powerful platforms play in facilitating those harms. And it has developed and launched sophisticated custom forensic tools in service of investigating issues that would otherwise remain hidden, including Blacklight, a privacy inspector, and Citizen Browser, a project to inspect Facebook's algorithms.[27]

In 2022, Angwin was replaced by Sisi Wei as Editor-in-Chief. [28]

In February 2023, Angwin left The Markup.[29]


Angwin is the author of Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America[30] and Dragnet Nation.[4] 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."[31] 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.[32][33] The Economist,[18] Kirkus Reviews,[34] and the Los Angeles Times gave Dragnet Nation favorable reviews.[35]

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.[16] 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.[5]


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.

She shared the 2011 Gerald Loeb Award for Online Enterprise for the story "What They Know."[36]

In 2017, Angwin was awarded a Scripps Howard award for Digital Innovation alongside four colleagues at ProPublica for their investigative series entitled Machine Bias, which examined how computer-generated algorithms used to predict criminality perpetuate racial biases [37] Angwin graduated from the University of Chicago in 1992 with a B.A. in mathematics.[38]

In 2018, Angwin and her team's work on her “Automating Hate” series at ProPublica won the Loeb Award for beat reporting. That series uncovered secret guidelines used by Facebook to inconsistently distinguish between hate speech and political expression.[39]

She shared the 2018 Gerald Loeb Award for Beat Reporting for the story "Automating Hate."[40]


Angwin lives in New York City with her husband and two children.[41] Her daughter started a cryptography business as a middle school student called Diceware Passwords, focused on selling secure handwritten passwords.[42]


  1. ^ "Julia Angwin in Talks to Return to Tech News Site She Helped Found". The Wall Street Journal. May 24, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  2. ^ "Julia Angwin". Profiles. ProPublica. nd. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  3. ^ "The 2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Explanatory Reporting". Pulitzer.org. 2017. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b Sharma, Neha (February 14, 2014). "Reclaiming Privacy in An Age of Hyper-Sharing". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  6. ^ James Marcus (March 18, 2009). "MySpace Odyssey". Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  7. ^ Eric Johnson (April 26, 2019). "What the hell happened at The Markup? Part 1: Former editor-in-chief Julia Angwin on Recode Decode". Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  8. ^ Bill Moyers. "Julia Angwin Investigative Journalist". Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  9. ^ Chris Roush (October 2, 2018). "New Knight-Bagehot director Narisetti talks about its changes". Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  10. ^ "Director's Fellow". Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  11. ^ Pete Grieve (April 11, 2017). "Newsletter for April 11". Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  12. ^ Kim Brockway (November 30, 1998). "Columbia University News". Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  13. ^ John Geddes (September 9, 2013). "Digital Riptide". Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  14. ^ John Geddes (April 2013). "Society of American Business Editors and Writers". Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  15. ^ Laura Castaneda (April 2013). "San Francisco Chronicle". Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  16. ^ a b Bill Moyers (March 14, 2014). "No Escaping Dragnet Nation". Moyers & Company. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  17. ^ Angwin, Julia; Fowler, Geoffrey A. (November 23, 2009). "Volunteers Log Off as Wikipedia Ages". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Online privacy: Watching the watchers". The Economist. March 1, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "Ethics Policy". The Markup. September 23, 2018. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ a b Bowles, Nellie (September 23, 2018). "News Site to Investigate Big Tech, Helped by Craigslist Founder". The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  24. ^ a b "Here's what happened inside The Markup". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  25. ^ "The Markup". The Markup. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  26. ^ Tracy, Marc (February 24, 2020). "After Long Wait, The Markup Is Ready to 'Show Our Work'". The New York Times. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  27. ^ Morrison, Sara (September 22, 2020). "It's easier than ever to find out how your favorite websites are tracking you". Vox. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  28. ^ Tameez, Hanaaʼ. ""A bigger focus on the human impact of technology": Sisi Wei is The Markup's new editor-in-chief". Nieman Lab. Archived from the original on August 2, 2022. Retrieved March 26, 2023.
  29. ^ Angwin, Julia (February 4, 2023). "Journalistic Lessons for the Algorithmic Age". The Markup. Archived from the original on February 4, 2023. Retrieved March 27, 2023.
  30. ^ Angwin, Julia (March 17, 2009). Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America. Random House. pp. 384. ISBN 978-1400066940.
  31. ^ Agger, Michael (April 16, 2009). "Dude, Murdoch Friended Us!". The New York Times. Sunday Book Review. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ "Dragnet Nation by Julia Angwin". Kirkus Reviews. February 25, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  35. ^ Silverman, Jacob (March 6, 2014). "'Dragnet Nation' looks at the hidden systems that are always looking at you". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  36. ^ "Loeb Award Winners". UCLA Anderson School of Management. June 28, 2011. Archived from the original on April 1, 2019. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  37. ^ Cynthia Gordy Giwa (March 7, 2017). "ProPublica Wins Two Scripps Howard Awards". Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  38. ^ Bill Moyers. "Bill Moyers". Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  39. ^ "ProPublica Wins Two Gerald Loeb Awards for Business Journalism". June 26, 2018. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  40. ^ "UCLA Anderson School of Management Announces 2018 Gerald Loeb Award Winners". PR Newswire. June 25, 2018. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  41. ^ "Julia Angwin". MacMillan Publishers. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  42. ^ "Need a Good Password? Here's Help from a Sixth-Grader". Columbia Climate School. December 28, 2015. Retrieved June 8, 2021.