In an op-ed published ahead of the deadline for bidding in Gawker Media’s bankruptcy auction Monday, billionaire Peter Thiel called for the protection of “individual dignity online” and accused the media company of exposing people’s sex lives for profit.
“All people deserve respect, and nobody’s sexuality should be made a public fixation,” the Silicon Valley titan, who was outed by Gawker in 2007, wrote in The New York Times.
“In my case, Gawker decided to make those choices for me,” he added. “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.”
The op-ed only briefly mentioned Thiel’s role in funding wrestler Hulk Hogan’s successful defamation lawsuit against Gawker for publishing Hogan’s sex tape, which ultimately bankrupted the media company. Thiel spent roughly $10 million bankrolling Hogan’s suit, which he said was about “deterrence” after Gawker’s “bullying.”
But Thiel described his support for Hogan’s suit in vague terms in the op-ed, saying only that he is “proud to have contributed financial support” and “would gladly support someone else in the same position.”
The law firm representing Hogan has reportedly worked for Gawker’s opposition in at least five federal lawsuits against the media company since 2013, although it is unclear whether Thiel has been involved in cases other than Hogan’s.
“Since sensitive information can sometimes be publicly relevant, exercising judgment is always part of the journalist’s profession,” Thiel wrote, adding: “It’s not for me to draw the line.”