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  • Geebo 10:03 am on January 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Gawker, ,   

    Is Peter Thiel trying to erase his critics from the internet? 

    Is Peter Thiel trying to erase his critics from the internet?

    It’s been reported recently that billionaire and Silicon Valley bigwwig Peter Thiel may have out in a bid to buy the remaining assets of the now defunct news and gossip blog Gawker. Thiel is infamous for admittedly funding the lawsuit by former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan that bankrupted Gawker media. Most of Gawker Media’s assets were sold to television network Univision, however, the Gawker website itself was left behind as part of a bankruptcy estate.

    So why is this news? Well, the Gawker archives are still online, that includes many stories critical of Peter Thiel and the story that started Thiel’s apparent vendetta against Gawker where Gawker outed him as being gay. One of Gawker’s former reporters alleges that if Thiel purchases Gawker he could potentially delete the archives and use copyright law to force any copies of them offline. While you may debate the merits or lack thereof of Gawker itself, this would be a dark day for journalism as it shows that information can be controlled if you have enough money.

    However, if Thiel chose to pursue this path it could have the opposite effect. Thiel is risking what’s been dubbed the Streisand Effect. The Streisand Effect is a term coined by the internet after celebrity Barbara Streisand who tried to have photos of her home suppressed from publication. What followed was a flood of Streisand’s home being posted online. If Thiel were to try to erase articles that were critical of him they would almost surely reappear in other places on the web. Not just that, but the web can be so ephemeral that once one story was removed, ten anonymous replacements would take its place.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on August 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Gawker, , , , Tom Scocca   

    Gawker writer: Censorship is for sale 

    Gawker writer: Censorship is for sale

    True censorship can only come from the government since it’s the First Amendment that guarantees a free press. However, Gawker writer Tom Scocca makes the case that a free press is threatened by those who can afford to have the press bent to their will.

    In his post entitled ‘Gawker Was Murdered by Gaslight’, Mr. Scocca makes the point that only one person killed Gawker and the man holding the smoking gun is none other than Peter Thiel. Scocca makes great points about Thiel’s personally financed vendetta against Gawker, especially with the infamous Hulk Hogan lawsuit. He points out that without Thiel’s backing the Hogan lawsuit was without merit since federal courts ruled that the publishing of excerpts from Hogan’s sex tape was considered newsworthy and therefore protected speech. It’s also pointed out that media outlets have insurance policies for such lawsuits and Mr. Scocca not only points out that the New York Post settled out of court for publishing pictures of two men they thought were responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings, but also that in previous instances Gawker never had to pay anything close to a million dollars for any such mistakes prior to Mr. Thiel’s revenge by proxy campaign.

    According to Gawker, Thiel just kept throwing money at more lawsuits for anyone who perceived that they may have been wronged by Gawker. He basically bankrupted Gawker in a war of attrition by outspending them all because Gawker outed Thiel as gay, which as salacious as that may sound was also considered newsworthy therefore also protected. After the $140 million judgement was ordered against Gawker they were immediately denied any kind of appeal in court. That sounds a lot like Peter Thiel’s money speaking for the court and since the court is part of the government maybe Gawker’s death is true censorship after all.

    Peter Thiel should not be mistaken as some kind of privacy champion. Instead he should be seen as the public face of a number of entitled billionaires who are buying favorable press and financially crushing any dissension.

     
  • Geebo 10:06 am on August 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Gawker, , , Univision   

    Gawker: The Final Chapter 

    Gawker: The Final Chapter

    After losing its infamous lawsuit against Hulk Hogan and declaring bankruptcy, Gawker Media was purchased for $135 million. While tech media publisher Ziff Davis was an early suitor, the network of blogs under the Gawker banner were purchased by Spanish language TV network Univision. However, after the purchase was made final, it was announced that Gawker.com itself will be shuttered next week after 14 years of being online. Gawker founder, Nick Denton, announced that Gawker itself was unable to find a buyer while properties like Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker and Kotaku were worthwhile to their purchaser.

    While some may celebrate the demise of Gawker it has set a dangerous precedent that if you have enough money you can silence any media that is unfavorable to you. The Hulk Hogan lawsuit, and others, were admittedly funded by Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel after Gawker outed Thiel as gay some years ago.

    If we’re not careful, we could be seeing the start of an era where freedom of the press could be squelched by the super rich elite if the media crosses them.

     
  • Geebo 11:30 am on June 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Gawker, , ,   

    Is Peter Thiel suing Gawker over Donald Trump’s hair? 

    Is Peter Thiel suing Gawker over Donald Trump's hair?

    From the ridiculous to the sublime.

    Just when you thought the feud between venture capitalist Peter Thiel and Gawker Media couldn’t get anymore strange comes the news that Thiel’s team of legal attack dogs of Harder Mirell & Abrams are threatening more legal action against Gawker over Donald Trump’s hair.

    One of Gawker’s reporters, Ashley Feinberg, has claimed that she has solved the mystery of Donald Trump’s infamous coiffure. In a Gawker blog post she claims that The Donald’s hair is actually an expensive hairpiece produced by a company named Ivari International. Ivari, while being represented by Charles J. Harder, of the above named legal firm, sent a letter to Gawker…

    Thiel’s lawyer-for-hire, Charles J. Harder, sent Gawker a letter on behalf of Ivari International’s owner and namesake, Edward Ivari, in which Harder claims that Feinberg’s story was “false and defamatory,” invaded Ivari’s privacy, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and committed “tortious interference” with Ivari’s business relations.

    As it currently stands, Thiel backed lawsuits are already draining Gawker of all available capital. How much more money does he think that his paid proxies can bleed from an already drained stone and is Donald Trump’s hair really the hill that he wants to die on?

    In this blogger’s opinion this recent threat of legal action shows not only how petty Thiel has become and not only how much he’s abusing the legal system but also shows how much he’s willing to strong-arm a media outlet into non-existence. What happens when a media giant like the Washington Post or the New York Times reports something about Thiel that he doesn’t like? Will he back lawsuits against them too and if so where does it end? What’s stopping other billionaires from funding lawsuits by proxy against the media? Will they all try to sue the media out of existence? Granted, that’s an extreme scenario that is unlikely to come to pass but how many journalistic voices could fall in the meantime?

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on June 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Gawker, , , ,   

    Gawker Bankruptcy: A defeat for a free press 

    Gawker Bankruptcy: A defeat for a free press

    This past weekend it was announced that Gawker has filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the $140 million settlement awarded to Hulk Hogan in a lawsuit funded by venture capitalist Peter Thiel. However, while Gawker may have lost the battle the war rages on.

    While Gawker has declared bankruptcy to protect itself against creditors it’s not yet officially out of business. Not only is media publishing company Ziff Davis looking to buy Gawker but Gawker is exploring legal options against Peter Thiel to see if his funding of lawsuits against them violated any laws.

    As has been mentioned before on this blog, Peter Thiel’s and Hulk Hogan’s win over Gawker sets a dangerous precedent of billionaires being able to squelch the press if they don’t agree with or even like the content. It’s reminiscent of old gangster movies where a heavy would threaten a store owner. It’s almost like Peter Thiel told Gawker media “You have a nice network here, it would be a shame if something happened to it.”

     
  • Geebo 10:15 am on June 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Gawker,   

    Thiel to remain on Facebook board amid free speech concerns 

    Thiel to remain on Facebook board amid free speech concerns

    In a follow-up to yesterday’s post about Peter Thiel and the Gawker lawsuit, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said that Thiel can and will remain on the board of Facebook. Thiel has been a long time member of the Facebook board and there were some concerns about his standing after it was made public that Thiel was personally funding his alleged vendetta against Gawker. Not only is Gawker a media partner with Facebook but Facebook has had their own issues with supposedly manipulating featured news stories.

    At the Code Conference, held in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Ms. Sandberg stated that since Mr. Thiel did not use Facebook resources in his fight with Gawker It’s not a Facebook issue, but isn’t it? What if Facebook all of a sudden decides that Gawker is no longer a featured media partner? How could that not be seen as anything but a conflict of interest? If anything it feels like Facebook is not only condoning what Thiel is doing to Gawker but protecting him as well.

     
  • Geebo 10:06 am on June 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Gawker, , , ,   

    Gawker needs to beat Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel for all of journalism 

    Gawker needs to beat Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel for all of journalism

    Everyone wants to root for the good guy. Even more, everyone wants to be the good guy.

    Take Terry Gene Bollea, more famously known as Hulk Hogan, for example. For the better part of his professional wrestling career Hulk Hogan played the good guy against the series of villains who always fell to the power of Hulkamania. Behind the scenes Hogan wasn’t all that much of a good guy. Due to his success he had massive political pull within the World wrestling Federation. He often used his clout to not only protect and promote his friends but he would often also refuse to work with up and coming stars who he felt threatened his position at the top of the company.  As most of you may know Gawker.com leaked a sex tape of Hogan and his best friend’s wife that was recorded without Hogan’s knowledge. A second leak of the tape showed Hogan talking to his bedmate about his daughter’s singing career and during that conversation Hogan let a few racial epithets fly. Because of the second leak Hogan lost a very lucrative ‘legends’ deal he had with World Wrestling Entertainment and has been persona non grata in the pro wrestling business. In interviews Hogan still tries to portray himself as the good guy who was victimized. Hogan sued Gawker on the grounds of privacy invasion and was awarded a $140 million settlement. That amount is being appealed by Gawker since if they have to pay that amount to Hogan they’ll essentially be out of business.

    Recently it was made public that Silicon Valley investor and big-wig Peter Thiel bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit to the tune of $10 million. Thiel feels like Gawker’s sister blog Valleywag outed him as being gay in 2007. By most accounts Mr. Thiel had only told a number of close business confidants and friends but didn’t advertise his sexual preference, although it was said to be known to most movers and shakers in the alley.  SInce then he’s been allegedly ‘helping’ people who have been supposedly wronged by Gawker Media. Thiel seems to think that he is the good guy by trying to shut down this supposed media menace in Gawker Media.

    In reality neither of the above mentioned entities are the good guy. So who is? Much like in pro-wrestling storylines the good guy has to face what seems like insurmountable odds before triumphing over the man or men that wronged him. The underdog good guy in this scenario is the First Amendment.

    While what Gawker did may seem distasteful, Thiel is continuing a dangerous tradition that harkens back to WIlliam Randolph Hearst. Thiel is using his money and influence to strong-arm Gawker Media out of existence simply because he doesn’t like them. You may say that Gawker deserves it but where does it end? Say that there’s a strangely coiffed billionaire running for federal office and a large media outlet that has a large influence in the country decides to endorse his opponent. In theory that billionaire could buy that media outlet and heavily influence what stories they report about him. Before you know it other billionaires get into the game and have the news skewed in their favor. If you don’t think that will happen you may already be too late. While he has yet to commit any egregious overreaches of journalism Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. A better example might be Las Vegas business magnate, Sheldon Adelson, who bought an entire newspaper that was often critical of him in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Reports have said that Adelson is squashing any story that may be critical of him. Before you know it most media will be skewed one way or another, not necessarily by political view but by how it can benefit their billionaire owners.

    For those reasons the $140 million settlement awarded to Hogan should be denied on appeal. If not it will set a dangerous precedent where those with the money can buy any kind of news coverage they want. While some of us were worried about the government possibly curtailing the free speech of journalists we should have been paying more attention to the financially elite. Sometimes a bad guy needs to win so the good guy’s triumph is more impactful.

     
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