Gawker Media is up for sale today in an effort to raise money needed to pay a legal judgment of $140 million dollars. That sum is the result of a lawsuit brought by Hulk Hogan aka Terry Bollea. Bollea filed the lawsuit after Gawker published excerpts of a sex tape without his permission. That lawsuit was supported financially by billionaire Peter Thiel, who spoke at the GOP convention last month. Monday, Thiel wrote a piece for the New York Times defending his decision to back the suit against Gawker. He describes how Gawker’s decision to out him in 2007 prompted his support of Bollea:
In 2007, I was outed by the online gossip blog Gawker. It wasn’t so many years ago, but it was a different time: Gay men had to navigate a world that wasn’t always welcoming, and often faced difficult choices about how to live safely and with dignity. In my case, Gawker decided to make those choices for me. I had begun coming out to people I knew, and I planned to continue on my own terms. Instead, Gawker violated my privacy and cashed in on it…
Since cruelty and recklessness were intrinsic parts of Gawker’s business model, it seemed only a matter of time before they would try to pretend that journalism justified the very worst.
Sure enough, in October 2012 Gawker did something beyond the pale: They published a sex tape without the consent of the people in the video. Unfortunately for Gawker, they had targeted someone who was determined to fight back. Terry Bollea is better known as the wrestler Hulk Hogan, a fact that Gawker claimed justified public access to his private life. Mr. Bollea disagreed. At first he simply requested that Gawker take down the video. But Gawker refused. It was getting millions of page views, and that was making money.
Gawker eventually lost the lawsuit to the tune of $140 million. It has said it expects to win an appeal of that judgment but in his piece today Thiel writes “I will support him until his final victory.”
Thiel concludes that the fight against Gawker is just one battle in a larger war to protect online privacy from those who would abuse it for revenge or profit. He cites the Intimate Privacy Protection Act, a bill designed to make revenge porn a clear violation of law.