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Victory For Privacy

With Gawker Media filing for bankruptcy protection - a gossip story has recently turned into a big win for Privacy.


When wrestler Hulk Hogan filed a lawsuit against gossip media group Gawker Media over his leaked sex-tape, it was still a gossip. Then came a revelation that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel was funding some of his legal costs. As Hulk Hogan won the $140m lawsuit and Peter Thiel admitted that he was financially covering some of the legal costs - a serious and shadow war for "Privacy vs Freedom of Speech" became clear.

Background:
  • Gawker Media was launched in 2003 and incorporated in 2012, as an online media company with a network of blogs.
  • 2007, a Gawker Media owned website exposes billionaire Peter Thiel as gay, stirring up bad blood with the Silicon Valley  moghul.
  • 2012, Gawker Media publishes a 41 second Hulk Hogan's sex-tape.
  • 2013, Gawker Media refuses to remove the sex-tape, citing the First Amendment as its Freedom for Speech, and argues that the 41 seconds of video has news value.
  • Wrestler Hulk Hogan fights for his Privacy, and sues Gawker Media for (then) $100m.
  • 2016, Hulk Hogan wins the $140m lawsuit, as judge order Gawker Media to pay.
  • Gawker Media files for bankruptcy protection goes up for sale.

Key Issues:
  • Should the gossip and new media be allowed to intrude into people's life to make cheap profits. Apparently their cheap profits run into $6.5m for the year 2014.
  • Is the obnoxious amount of wealth in the billionaire club and Silicon Valley's digital muscle, exerting undue influence over media (press).
Key Players:
  • Billionaire Phillip Thiel, was obviously the dark knight in this war. This hero also was an early investor in Facebook and co-founder of PayPal. Humiliated by Gawker in 2007, he has got his sweet revenge by putting Gawker out of business.
  • Hulk Hogan, once the focus of gossip, is now a poster-boy for Freedom of Privacy.
  • Gawker Media, was an influential force in the growth of online media in early days. Often frowned upon for its cheesy gossip. And in Peter Thiel's words "built its business on humiliating people for sport".
In my opinion, it is a clear win for Privacy over Freedom of Speech.

There is no justification for publishing anyone's sex-tape - be it a celebrity, wrestler, or shaming anyone's sexual orientation (as gay). In today's world everyone has the right to live their life the way they like it. Nobody owes anybody a living. Media sites owned by Gawker had gone way too far with their offensive and distasteful publications. The First Amendment gives them the Freedom for Speech - but not a license to intrude into other's privacy, to shame people publicly, or to offend anyone's lifestyle. Hulk Hogan truly lives up to his superhero image, of crushing giants - both in and out of the ring.

This could also be the only time in history a 41 second video clip busted a $200+ million dollar company.

References:
Financial Times: Gawker Files for Bankruptcy Protection
https://next.ft.com/content/c964dbca-2f2d-11e6-a18d-a96ab29e3c95

Wikipedia: Gawker Media
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gawker_Media

Reuters: Gawker Media Files for Bankruptcy, To Go Up For Sale
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-gawkermedia-bankruptcy-idUSKCN0YW1YP