The Markup has been named the Hottest in Tech on Adweek’s 2022 Hot List and in August won two national Edward R. Murrow Awards—one for investigative reporting for Prediction: Bias, in partnership with Gizmodo, and one for excellence in innovation for our Citizen Browser project.
Adweek’s Annual Hot List
Each year Adweek honors the best people, platforms, and companies shaping media across a variety of categories. This year The Markup received recognition as the Hottest in Tech for our investigative reporting and innovative tools.
Adweek highlighted our Pixel Hunt series, which exposed the very real consequences of data exploitation and access to consumers’ most sensitive personal information. In partnership with Mozilla Rally, we launched the Facebook Pixel Hunt, the first large-scale crowdsourced study of the presence of the Meta Pixel, a tracker embedded on websites that sends information on visitors to Facebook. The study has resulted in several articles detailing the scope of sensitive information being sent to Facebook.
In “Applied for Student Aid Online? Facebook Saw You,” Surya Mattu and Colin Lecher found that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website’s embedded Meta Pixel was sending identifying information back to Facebook. After The Markup questioned the U.S. Department of Education about the tracking practice, the FAFSA site stopped sharing some details, like name and address, with Facebook, though some less invasive information, like what page on the site a user may have viewed, was still being transmitted at the time of publication. Advocacy groups Accountable Tech and Student Defense sent a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform requesting a full investigation into the matter.
In “Facebook Is Receiving Sensitive Medical Information from Hospital Websites,” Todd Feathers, Simon Fondrie-Teitler, Angie Waller, and Surya Mattu found the Meta Pixel on the websites of 33 of the top 100 U.S. hospitals and the patient portals of seven health systems. The Meta Pixel had been collecting patients’ sensitive health information—including details about their medical conditions, prescriptions, and doctor’s appointments—and sending it back to Facebook. As a result of the report, many of the hospitals removed the tracker, three hospital systems have sent data breach notifications to a total of 4.8 million patients, and at least five class-action lawsuits have been filed against Meta related to the presence of the pixel on hospital websites.
National Edward R. Murrow Awards
The Markup won two Radio Television Digital News Association Edward R. Murrow Awards, which are among the most respected journalism awards in the world.
Receiving the award for investigative reporting, our Prediction: Bias story “Crime Prediction Software Promised to Be Free of Biases. New Data Shows It Perpetuates Them,” in partnership with Gizmodo, exposed that crime prediction software PredPol instructed dozens of law enforcement agencies across the country to patrol Black, Latino, and low-income neighborhoods more than richer and Whiter areas. Why? As it turns out, in addition to the well-reported patterns of the neighborhoods where police make more arrests, there’s also a pattern to who is less likely to decide to report a crime: White people and those living above the poverty line.
Prediction: Bias also won the National Association of Black Journalists 2022 Salute to Excellence Award in the digital media: business category earlier this year.
Our Citizen Browser project received the Murrow Award for excellence in innovation. A demographically diverse panel of thousands of Facebook users installed our custom desktop application, allowing us to monitor their news feeds and page and group recommendations, and gain valuable insight into the social media giant’s algorithms. Citizen Browser has led to dozens of reports showing how Facebook has determined what information it serves its users, what news and narratives are amplified or suppressed, and which online communities those users are encouraged to join. Learn how we built Citizen Browser.
A huge congratulations to our entire team at The Markup for these hard-earned honors, and thank you to our readers, supporters, partners, and everyone who has contributed to the success of our work.