Providing an answer to a question asked by us and other news organizations last week, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg today confirmed that Peter Thiel will remain on Facebook's board — despite the recent revelation that he has secretly waged a ten-year-long battle against Gawker Media.
As reported by Buzzfeed, Sandberg told an audience gathered at tech conference Code that not only would he remain on the board, but that she felt no need to even issue a statement about the matter. “There’s been no implication that [Thiel] was doing this for Facebook, so we didn’t have to comment.”
Sandberg was apparently pressured to make some sort of statement, however, as a reporter with Forbes tweeted out the following exchange.
Sandberg says "We didn't know" that Thiel was doing what he was doing and he wasn't using FB resources. She calls Gawker a partner....— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) June 1, 2016
When pressed if it would be acceptable for Thiel to direct his significant financial resources at destroying other news organizations or even specific journalists, Sandberg reportedly replied that "it's hard to answer all these hypotheticals."
“Peter did what he did on his own, not as a Facebook board member,” Forbes reports Sandberg as noting. “We didn’t know about it. We have very independent board members with very independent thoughts that they share publicly.”
“Those strong people make really good board members because they have strong views," she continued, "and they’re not afraid to think differently than other people, which has served Facebook well."
Thiel, of course, secretly funded a lawsuit against Gawker brought by the retired wrestler Hulk Hogan. The Guardian reports that Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, was fired from the WWE for making racist remarks that were caught on film. It was a portion of this very film, which not so incidentally was also a sex tape, that Gawker posted online that sparked Hogan's lawsuit against the company.