NEW YORK – The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University announced today that investigative journalist, artist, and engineer Surya Mattu has joined the Institute as a resident technologist. During his residency, Mattu will collaborate with the Institute on research related to surveillance and social media platforms, and will work with the Institute on a broader vision for integrating technologists into the Institute’s litigation, research, and public education programs. Mattu will be affiliated with the Knight Institute through the end January 2020.

“Understanding contemporary challenges to free speech requires not just legal expertise but also deep knowledge of technology,” said Jameel Jaffer, the Knight First Amendment Institute’s Executive Director. “I’m delighted that the Knight Institute will be able to draw on Surya Mattu’s knowledge and creativity. His past research, including his research into the algorithms that power social media platforms, has been truly visionary.”

Mattu works as an investigative data journalist at The Markup, an online publication focused on illuminating the ways in which technology impacts society. Previously, he was a contributing researcher at ProPublica, where he worked on Machine Bias, a series that highlighted how algorithmic systems can embed racial bias. Machine Bias was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Explanatory Journalism. He has also worked at Gizmodo’s Special Projects Desk, winning the 2018 Technology in Journalism Award from the National Press Foundation with journalist Kashmir Hill for their work on “The House that Spied on Me.” He has been a visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab and has shown work at The Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Museum of Art & Design, The Whitney Museum, V&A Museum, and Bitforms Gallery.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Knight Institute and to learning from its community of litigators, researchers, and writers,” said Mattu. “My work aims to raise public awareness around the role technology plays in perpetuating systemic biases and inequities in society. Understanding the legal framework within which technology companies operate is key to this conversation, which is why I am excited for this collaboration.”

For more information, contact: Lorraine Kenny, Knight First Amendment Institute,, 646-745-8510.