Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, said today that billionaire investor Peter Thiel will not be asked to leave Facebook’s board.
During her talk at the Vox Media’s Code Conference, she said the company wouldn’t punish Thiel for the controversy surrounding his involvement in a lawsuit against Gawker.
Last week it was revealed that Thiel had personally financed Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Media, spending upwards of $10 million of his own money in the process.
Thiel’s investment has raised some serious questions about the future of free speech when it comes to criticizing billionaires.
If Hulk Hogan’s $140 million verdict remains in place it could bankrupt Gakwer Media.
Facebook champions free speech — which is why Thiel’s place on the board was questioned in the first place.
The question was asked directly: “He’ll remain on the board, just to be clear?”
And the answer was also clear: “Yes.”
“We have very independent board members with very independent thoughts they share separately, those strong people make strong board members because they have strong views,” Sandberg said.
Sandberg stressed that Thiel was not using any of Facebook’s resources in his involvement in the trial. She also talked about Gawker’s partnership with Facebook.
“They’re our partner,” Sandberg said. “If he did anything with Facebook resources that would be a Facebook issue. I understand there were complicated issues. It’s hard to answer all these hypotheticals, what matters is we’re an open platform, Gawker is getting distribution from us, as is fox news, and others.”