Gawker's new owner deletes six posts

NEW YORK • Executives at Univision, which bought Gawker Media in August for US$135 million (S$183.5 million), voted last Friday to remove six posts published by Gawker Media sites. The posts, which were taken down last Saturday, are involved in legal action.

In a memo to the staff, Gawker Media executive editor John Cook wrote that two Univision executives had proposed deleting seven posts, which appeared on Gawker sites Deadspin, Gizmodo or Jezebel, because they were "under active litigation against Gawker Media and that Unimoda had been authorised to purchase only the assets, and not the liabilities, of the company". (Unimoda is a subsidiary of Univision.)

"Unimoda's legal analysis was that the continued publication of the posts under the new entity would constitute the adoption of liability, and that Unimoda is therefore obligated to delete them," he added.

One of the seven posts, which contains a photo that is the subject of a copyright complaint, will remain online for now. A decision on whether to remove it has been postponed pending more legal analysis.

Univision's decision to delete the posts was a clear signal that the company does not want to deal with any of the legal baggage that comes with owning Gawker Media.

In March, a Florida jury ruled against Gawker Media in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit by former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, and awarded him US$140 million. Not long after the trial, Mr Peter Thiel, a billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur, revealed in an interview with The New York Times that he had secretly funded Bollea's case and others against Gawker Media, though he did not say which.

The judgment, and the threat that Mr Thiel could keep bankrolling legal actions, proved to be too much for Gawker and in June, it filed for bankruptcy and put itself up for sale.

In a memo to staff last Saturday, Mr Isaac Lee, chief news, entertainment and digital officer at Univision, sought to reassure employees that Univision would stand behind Gawker Media posts going forward.

"Should there be threats in the future related to stories published on our Gawker Media Group sites, no matter the date of publication, we will defend them as vigorously as we would defend stories published by Univision News, Fusion, The Root or any of our other properties," he wrote, adding that the decision to remove the posts was "not a precedent for the future".

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline 'Gawker's new owner deletes six posts'. Print Edition | Subscribe