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Revealed: Facebook billionaire secretly backed Hulk Hogan's sex tape lawsuit

Peter Thiel has had a feud against Gawker Media since it outed him as gay in 2007.

Hogan was awarded damages totalling $140m against Gawker.
Hogan was awarded damages totalling $140m against Gawker.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

INTERNET ENTREPRENEUR PETER Thiel, known for his involvement in Silicon Valley firms PayPal and Facebook, has funded the litigation by former wrestler Hulk Hogan against website Gawker Media, reports said.

The New York Times, Forbes and other media reported that Thiel has secretly backed Hogan’s lawsuit, which resulted in a $140 million jury award against the entertainment website for releasing a sex tape featuring Hogan and a friend’s wife.

The March trial in the Florida city of St. Petersburg has been closely watched by legal experts for its implications for privacy and free expression online.

Gawker Media, known for its gossip about public figures, is appealing the case.

According to the Times, Thiel has had a long feud with Gawker since its 2007 article revealing he is homosexual.

The Silicon Valley billionaire is also said to have once described Gawker-owned site Valleywag as “the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al-Qaeda.”

Web Summit 2014 - Dublin Peter Thiel speaking at the 2014 Web Summit in Dublin. Source: Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA Archive

The reports noted there is nothing illegal about Thiel’s support for the lawsuit.

German-born Thiel was a founder of the online payments firm PayPal, and served as its CEO before it was sold to eBay. He was also an early investor in Facebook and has been active in venture investing in Silicon Valley.

He operates his own foundation and has created a fellowship that offers funding to young adults who drop out of college to form their own enterprise.

Thiel has made no public comment on the Hogan case.

According to a Forbes ranking of global billionaires, Thiel, 48, has a net worth of some $2.7 billion, with stakes in Silicon Valley data firm Palantir and home-sharing service Airbnb.

© – AFP 2016

Read: Gawker challenges jury’s decision to give Hulk Hogan €120 million over sex tape >

Read: Hulk Hogan awarded $115 million after sex tape trial >

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