You may have come upon the name of Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley billionaire and one of the creators of PayPal, in a previous post for An Sionach Fionn. Back in 2013 I discussed the up-and-coming data analysis company, Palantir Technologies, co-founded by the German-American entrepreneur, which was touting its wares around the “Western” intelligence services, including those of Britain. Take this from one of its product promotions:
“Not all terrorist organizations are rootless groups engaging only in international terrorism. Many terrorist groups are socially intertwined with the local population, highly territorialized and directly compete for governance. Terrorist groups such as the IRA, Hamas, Mahdi Army, Sendero Luminoso and Hezbollah are past and present examples of a socially intertwined terrorist organization. These groups present significant, but different challenges to our national security than Al Qaeda does and a different strategy to defeat them may be in order.
Using Hezbollah as an example, this investigation using Palantir, looks at the question of whether the direct military approach used to combat terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda, is appropriate to defeat a socially intertwined terrorist group as well. If not, what techniques would be the most useful as we better understand Hezbollah as an organization.”
Thiel has become something of a controversial figure in the United States, given his alt-right libertarian beliefs, though many feel he is fairly representative of the weirdly authoritarian leanings of the new technocratic classes in the country. Now he has become embroiled in the controversy involving the inflated performance wrestler, Hulk Hogan, and the news and gossip website, Gawker. The former has successfully sued the latter following Gawker’s prurient publication of a sex-tape involving the moustachioed one. The Fushion has more on the possible story-behind-the-story:
“On Tuesday night, Forbes reported that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel has been secretly funding Hulk Hogan’s $140-million lawsuit against Gawker Media that threatens to bankrupt the company.
Gawker boss Nick Denton got a hint years ago that this might be coming. When Gawker reported in 2007 that Peter Thiel was gay, Denton commented below the story that Thiel “was so paranoid that, when I was looking into the story, a year ago, I got a series of messages relaying the destruction that would rain down on me, and various innocent civilians caught in the crossfire, if a story ever ran.”
If being outed by Gawker was really the catalyst for Thiel’s decision to fund Hogan’s lawsuit seven years later, then, damn, that man is a true believer in revenge being a dish best-served cold.
Ironically, as many have pointed out, Peter Thiel was a long-time supporter of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and was quoted in the organization’s 2008 annual report saying that he’s a “true believer in the critical importance of free speech.” The organization’s executive director says Thiel’s support ceased in January 2013, which is, interestingly, a month after Hulk Hogan sued Gawker for posting an excerpt from a surreptitious sex tape made of him.
But Denton doesn’t think Thiel, who once called Gawker “the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda,” is the sole benefactor behind Gawker’s legal troubles. He previously told the New York Times that he had a “personal hunch” that Hogan’s expensive L.A.-based lawyer was being funded by multiple benefactors in Silicon Valley who don’t like that Gawker is exposing the money and power of the tech industry.
Gawker’s tech-focused blog Valleywag was a muckraking bee in the bonnet of the industry it covered–technology–from the moment it went live in 2006. Valleywag’s coverage was famous (or infamous) for bucking a trend in technology reporting that was notorious for not producing critical coverage of the industry.
In the service of pursuing that goal, it made a lot of enemies. Valleywag prided itself on going after the most powerful companies on Earth and the extremely wealthy people who ran them. These people, so used to having that power go unchecked, were very, very angry about being challenged on everything from tax avoidance to labor violations, rampant sexism and discrimination, oversized political donations, wealth inequality, aggressive lobbying and everything else wrong with Silicon Valley today.”
Watch this space for more on the surreptitious events in Silicon Valley. Personally speaking, borrowing the name of JRR Tolkien’s palantíri for a company serving the needs of spooks and Wall Street wankers is enough to condemn anyone in my eyes. The British author’s philosophy was the antithesis of those who favour the incorporation of automated Big Brothers into our lives, whether for the exploitative pursuit of money or people (though the first usually follows the latter). Where is the infamously litigious Tolkien Estate when you need it?