Facebook is about to decide the fate of a board member who waged a secret legal war against a news site

Peter thiel paypal facebook board palantirChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesPeter Thiel, billionaire investor and Facebook board member.

On June 10, Gawker Media filed for bankruptcy.

The media organisation has been brought low by a lawsuit by Hulk Hogan after its flagship title — the often-controversial Gawker — posted a sex tape of the former wrestler.

But behind the scenes, billionaire investor and Facebook board member Peter Thiel was secretly pulling the strings — bankrolling the case (as well as others like it) to the tune of $10 million (£6.9 million).

When news of Thiel’s involvement involvement in the case broke, there was immediate outrage, with some arguing that his involvement amounts to an assault on the free press, and a blueprint for censorship.

(Thiel, who began his decade-long crusade after an article in Gawker publicly discussed his sexuality, maintains his actions are justified — as do many others in Silicon Valley.)

There have also been calls for Mark Zuckerberg to throw Peter Thiel off the board of Facebook, given the 32-year-old CEO’s frequent defences of freedom of expression, and Facebook’s sometimes-fractious relationship with the media.

Today — Monday, June 20 — is Facebook’s annual shareholders’ meeting. The company’s board members are up for reelection, and in reality, that means Zuckerberg — who has a majority of voting power — gets to decide who stays and who goes.

It doesn’t look like we’re about to see Thiel’s departure, however. As Recode reports, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg recently unambiguously told attendees at the Code Conference that he is staying on: “Peter [Thiel] did what he did on his own. Not as a board member.”

We’re about to find out if Mark Zuckerberg has changed his mind.

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