Congrats Peter Thiel: you've successfully censored true stories reported by the press. Just a little while ago, Nick Denton posted that the remaining three cases filed by lawyer Charles Harder against Gawker, Denton and some reporters had been settled
, with the agreement to remove the stories. Harder, of course, is the lawyer that Peter Thiel set up with his own practice, with the stated mission of filing lawsuits that would kill Gawker. Thiel/Harder "won" back when this effort forced Gawker into bankruptcy and then a fire sale to Univision. But now the remaining stories have been officially killed off. This includes the famous Hulk Hogan story and case -- meaning that the appeal, which basically every lawyer admits would have resulted in overturning the lower court's jury verdict, is dead. I know the Gawker haters will cheer this outright censorship (or, worse, insist that this proves that the case was legitimate -- despite the fact it never was). But let's focus on one of the other stories that is getting censored here thanks to Peter Thiel's actions.
It's the one that we wrote about the most: Shiva Ayyaudrai
claims to have invented email when he was a kid. He did not
. I won't go through all the details again, but as a kid in 1978, Ayyadurai did
apparently create (independently) a software program for electronic mail for a college he worked for. By all accounts, it was a good program that was useful. He named it EMAIL and eventually registered a copyright for that piece of software. That's it. It's a neat accomplishment for a kid. But it is not "inventing email" by any stretch of the imagination.
That's because (1) every single thing that Ayyadurai did had already been done elsewhere, often many years earlier, and (2) all of that other work was done in public settings via RFCs and the process that eventually led to the email systems that we use today. Ayyadurai's email system... contributed to nothing. It was late to the game and it never went any further. Again, it was impressive that as a kid he basically independently created an electronic mailing system, but that's different from "inventing email." But, for whatever reason, Ayyadurai has staked his entire identity on the outright false claim
that he invented email. He's written a book about it. He has a whole webpage about it. And he keeps pushing the story on the press, including teaming up with a famous PR guy and (???) Noam Chomsky to argue that there was a giant conspiracy
to deny him his rightful designation as the inventor of email. He often claims this is because he's of Indian descent, ignoring that one of the actual
inventors of email, on RFC 561
is Abhay Bhushan (who also created FTP) and is, also, of Indian descent.
Ayyadurai is so obsessed with his false claim of creating email, that he even went on a petulant Twitter rampage
after one of the actual
creators of email, Ray Tomlinson, passed away earlier this year, yelling at any journalist who accurately credited Tomlinson's work on email.
Along with us, one of the other publications that highlighted Ayyadurai's bullshit claims was... Gawker. And, then, in May Ayyadurai sued Gawker
using Charles Harder as his lawyer, over two Gawker articles on Ayyadurai. Those articles were completely accurate. Ayyadurai did not invent email. He wants the world to believe he did, despite mountains of evidence that says he's wrong. Gawker's reporting was entirely accurate. This is not about "sex tapes" or "privacy" or any of the stuff people want to talk about with the Hulk Hogan story. This was exposing someone who was blatantly misrepresenting history
for his own personal aggrandizing.
And now it's gone, because continuing to fight the lawsuit was too much. As Denton notes:
But all-out legal war with Thiel would have cost too much, and hurt too many people, and there was no end in sight.
Denton notes that, especially given the reporters who were directly sued in these cases, it was best to just move on to "focus on activities more productive than endless litigation. Life is short, for most of us."
That's true, but it's also bullshit. Ayyadurai has been given the heckler's veto and will likely crow about how this vindicates him. He's tried to twist a variety of other things as "proof" that he's the inventor of email. As of writing this he hasn't said anything on his Twitter feed, other than to retweet someone saying "congratulations to [Shiva], inventor of email" and someone else tweeting about the Denton story. Of course, perhaps because he's too busy promoting some sketchy "health" system and conspiracy theories about the election -- oh, and also having conversations with confirmed asshole
and colleague in bullshit, censorious lawsuits
, actor James Woods.
So, not only is he not the inventor of email, he's also pretty clueless about how polls work and basic statistics too. Seems like a real winner.