While Gawker’s CEO Nick Denton agrees with the idea of his site being held accountable for the content it features, he also believes the same should be true of social media platforms like Facebook and Reddit.
"There are bullying scandals everyday of the week," Denton stated at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. "The barriers aren't there."
Denton made the comments in the wake of billionaire venture capitalist and Facebook board member Peter Thiel’s bid to challenge the gossip website’s “bullying” behavior.
For those unaware, Thiel recently admitted in an interview with The New York Times that he had been funding lawsuits different lawsuits against Gawker Media, including the $10 million for Hulk Hogan, who sued the website for releasing a sex tape in 2012 featuring the wrestler and a friend's wife.
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In March, a Florida jury ordered Gawker to pay Hogan about $140 million, in what was referred to as a big financial blow to the website.
Thiel claims he waged the legal war against Gawker for “philanthropic” purposes. He was himself outed as gay in a 2007 blog post from Valleywag, the former Gawker-owned tech publication.
A lot of news organizations have condemned Thiel’s beef with Gawker as a threat to freedom of press.
The New Yorker said “Thiel’s Gawker battle could open a war against the press.” Forbes wrote an analysis of how the “debacle has troubling repercussions for press freedoms.” The Washington Post’s media columnist Margaret Sullivan commented the spat “threatens free speech” while the Huffington Post’s Vivek Wadhwa argued if Gawker, or any other tabloid website, crosses a line, the courts should deal with it instead of “Silicon Valley’s power brokers” like Thiel.
Although Denton has acknowledged some of the egregious reporting by his various websites, he doesn’t regret publishing the Hogan tape. And he also believes if his organization is subject to accountability, so should Facebook and other social networks should be scrutinized for their content.