Global: Bezos rails against attempts to close Gawker

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos believes that billionaire investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel is wrong to use his fortune to back lawsuits designed to cripple Gawker Media, as the issue looms as another threat to freedom of the press in the US.

Bezos’ comments come less than a week after Thiel admitted he funded the defamation lawsuit brought by Terry Bollea – better known as former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan – against the online publication.

“I don’t think a billionaire should be able to fund a lawsuit to kill Gawker,” Bezos told the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, according to a CNet report.  “The best defence against speech you don’t like is a thick skin. If you can’t tolerate critics, then don’t do anything new or interesting.”

Thiel paid roughly $US10 million to back Hogan, who won more than $US140 million from Gawker in a Florida jury trial in March. The businessman began his attacks on Gawker close to 10 years ago after it had published articles on his homosexuality. Following his admission to funding Hogan, Thiel openly says he will fund any legal cases to shut down the website.

The direction of the Hogan case rests with any appeal launched by Gawker, which would throw it into the constitutional realm of freedom of the press versus the right to privacy – a case, if it eventuated, which would have the potential to rewrite the manner in which media operates.

Gawker is attempting to take the case to appeal, but first it wants a reduction in the required $50 million bond necessary for it to proceed.

The action by Thiel in using his wealth to attempt to close down a media site because he does not like what it publishes provides another challenge to the constitutional right of press freedom that could be added to the mix.

Philippines leader endorses killing of journalists

Philippines president-elect Rodrigo Duterte has accused many journalists who had been killed in the country of being corrupt, or of having “done something” to warrant their deaths.

“Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch,” Duterte said.

Agence France-Presse reports that Duterte, who will be sworn in as president on June 30, was responding to a question about how he would handle the killing of journalists.

The Philippines ranks as the second-deadliest country for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. At least 75 journalists there have been killed since 1992.

Facebook views played to the sounds of silence

Facebook might be hosting upwards of 8 billion views per day on its platform, but a wide majority of that viewership is happening in silence, according to a report on the Digiday site.

As much as 85 percent of video views happen with the sound off, multiple publishers report. Digiday uses the example of feel-good site LittleThings, which is averaging 150 million monthly views on Facebook so far this year.

Eighty-five per cent of its viewership is occurring without users turning the sound on. Similarly, millennial news site Mic, which is also averaging 150 million monthly Facebook views, said 85 percent of its 30-second views are without sound. PopSugar said its silent video views range between 50 and 80 percent.

Digiday says the news shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Facebook has built a video ecosystem that does not require users to turn the volume up.

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