Hello World

By Julia Angwin

Dispatches from Editor-in-Chief Julia Angwin

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The Mathematics of Amazon’s Advantage

Hello, friends,If you’ve ever shopped for a product on Amazon, you might have noticed that Amazon Basics and other house brands and products exclusive to the site often pop up at the top of your search results. Congress noticed, too. Last year, when congressi…


The Making of a Modern Whistleblower

Hello, friends,This week the Facebook whistleblower who provided documents to The Wall Street Journal, Frances Haugen, revealed her identity on “60 Minutes” and testified on Capitol Hill.She testified that Facebook prioritizes profits over safety and urged la…


The Shady $12 Billion Industry Tracking Your Every Move

Hello, friends,If you’re a privacy nerd like me, you may have turned off “location” services for many apps on your phone that request access to your whereabouts—and allowed only certain apps, like maps and weather, to access your location. But it turns out th…


Facebook and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Month

Hello, friends,Honestly, it was kind of hard to imagine that Facebook’s image could get more tarnished. After all, the company’s been mired in negative press for the past five years, ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the Russian disinformation ca…


Fighting for the Right to Pee

Hello, friends,It’s the year 2021, and peeing is on the legislative docket. California lawmakers have just passed a bill that would prohibit companies from penalizing warehouse workers for failing to meet their quotas because of a need to take a bathroom or w…


The Terrifying Rise of Autonomous Killing Machines

Hello, friends, Today marks 20 years since al-Qaeda attacked the United States by weaponizing commercial aircraft to kill 2,977 people. Sadly, the legacy of 9/11 is more than the lives lost that day. In reaction to the attacks, the U.S. launched the so-calle…


Investigating Racial Bias in Mortgage-Approval Algorithms

Hello, friends, Some of the most important problems in our society are not secret. But that does not mean they don’t need investigating.One of those hidden-in-plain-sight problems is the massive wealth disparity between White and Black families in the U.S. In…


The Double-Edged Sword of Anti-Doxing Laws

Hello, friends,When I first started writing about tech and privacy issues back in 2010, some of my journalist colleagues expressed concern: “Privacy crackdowns will hurt our work,” they told me. I was not deterred. But it was a good reminder of the uneasy rel…


Decrypting Apple’s Plan to Scan Photos on Your Phone

Hello, friends,Earlier this month Apple dropped a privacy bombshell. After years of touting its strong commitment to privacy, the company said it would soon start scanning photos stored on your iPhone to identify child sexual abuse imagery.The uproar from the…


Facebook vs. Independent Research

Hello, friends,This week Facebook took the aggressive step of disabling the Facebook accounts of independent researchers at New York University who were studying ads on its platform, claiming that the project violated user privacy. This move sparked an immedi…


Bringing the Citizen Browser Project to Germany

Hello, friends,Big Tech is global, but The Markup—which aims to be a Big Tech watchdog—is just a small nonprofit newsroom based in the U.S. This imbalance has meant that unfortunately, until now, we have not done much accountability journalism about the impac…


The Devastating Human Toll of the Gig Economy

Hello, friends,Imagine if you got assaulted on the job and your boss never called and your company stopped paying you, leaving you to fend for yourself with thousands of dollars in medical and other bills.That’s the reality for the drivers who are paid by Lyf…


President Biden’s Executive Order on Big Tech

Hello, friends,Earlier this month, President Joe Biden issued a sweeping executive order aimed at enhancing competition, which White House adviser Tim Wu described to The New Yorker as “an intellectual revolution … which the President has embraced.”The order …


Raising the Alarm (Again) on NSA Domestic Spying

Hello, friends,In 2013, speaking to the world on video from his hotel room in Hong Kong, whistleblower Edward Snowden shocked the world by revealing that the U.S. National Security Agency was conducting widespread surveillance of Americans—despite its mandate…


Defending Freedom of Expression

Hello, friends,It is Independence Day weekend here in the United States. In the spirit of democracy, I want to focus on one of our most cherished values: freedom of expression.The ability for people to speak up and express dissent against the government is on…


The Markup Summer Reading List

Hello, friends, Summer is finally here after a long pandemic winter. Though the global pandemic is far from over, vaccines are in some of our arms and we're starting to hug our family and friends again. It’s a lovely respite after more than a year of social i…


How Privacy and Disinformation Are Related

Hello, friends,Thank you so much to those of you who filled out last week’s survey. (And for those of you who didn’t, I would be hugely grateful if you took a few minutes to fill out our multiple choice form.)It was a real pleasure to learn about you all by h…


We Want Your Feedback

Hello, friends,If you’re like me, you’ve probably noticed that it’s weird to give presentations on Zoom because you can’t see how the audience is reacting as you speak. I find that I am uncomfortable when I cannot subtly adjust my tempo or tone to what I perc…


A Racial Reckoning for Tech

Hello, friends, When I first started covering the tech industry, in 1996, as a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, I didn’t expect to be covering racial discrimination. But when I looked around at the people working in the industry, I noticed that very f…


The Failures of Automated Content Moderation

Hello, friends,This week we reported the unsurprising—but somehow still shocking—news that Facebook continues to push anti-vax groups in its group recommendations despite its two separate promises to remove false claims about vaccines and to stop recommending…