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Gawker Media is a blog network based in New York City, owned and founded by Nick Denton. The network consists of eight blogs, inlcuding Gawker, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, io9, Kotaku, Jalopnik and Jezebel.
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The original Gawker gossip blog was launched in December 2002 by former British journalist Nick Denton, who ran the website from his apartment in the Soho neighborhood of New York City. The company was first incorporated in Budapest, Hungary, where it maintains a small office with several programmers. In August 2003, Spiers left Gawker to write for New York magazine and her position was replaced by art dealer Choire Sicha. In August 2004, Denton promoted Sicha to the newly created position of editorial director for Gawker Media and hired Jessica Coen, a film studio assistant, to replace Sicha. In mid-2006, Coen left Gawker to work for Vanity Fair and was replaced by Emily Gould. In 2008, an office space was set up for Gawker employees in the Nolita neighborhood of New York City. On October 3rd, 2008, the Gawker rumor blog Valleywag published a memo from Denton announcing the layoff of 19 of the 133 editorial positions at Gawker Media.
In late 2002, Gawker’s first sister site Gizmodo was launched as a technology news blog under the editorship of Engadget cofounder Peter Rojas. In November 2003, the sex-oriented blog Fleshbot was launched. In 2004, Denton launched the left-leaning political blog Wonkette, the celebrity gossip blog Defamer, the news aggregator blog Kinja, the car culture blog Jalopnik and the videogame blog Kotaku. In 2005, geek lifestyle blog Lifehacker and the sports news blog Deadspin were launched. In January 2008, the sci-fi blog io9 was launched. According to Wikipedia, Gawker Media sold the sites Idolator, Gridskipper and Wonkette on April 14th, 2008.
All of the blog network’s source code and over one million of Gawker Media’s commenter accounts were released by the hacker group Gnosis on December 11th, 2010. On December 13th, the computer security blog Naked Security reported that spammers had compromised “hundreds of thousands” of accounts on Twitter to promote an acai berry diet (shown below). The spam messages were posted by accounts that had been using the same password for both Gawker and Twitter.
On February 7th, 2011, all of the blogs in the Gawker Media network were updated with a new design and layout (shown below, right). The same day, the news blog Mediaite published a post titled “Working Out the Glitches: How Are You Feeling About Gawker’s Redesign?”, which quoted several criticisms of the design by notable figures in the tech industry.
On February 17th, TechCrunch published an article titled “Gawker’s Gulp Moment: Big Redesign is Driving People Away,” featuring Quantcast data showing a large drop in traffic following the redesign. On April 20th, The Atlantic published an article titled “Gawker’s Traffic Numbers Are Worst Than Anyone Anticipated,” which reported that the redesign had cut traffic by more than half. On February 2nd, 2012, the tech news blog The Next Web published a post titled “Remember That Gawker Redesign? A Year’s Worth of Data Says it Worked,” reporting that the network received a 10 million increase in monthly unique visitors compared to the previous year.
As of October 2012, Gawker Media is comprised of eight daily weblogs specializing in different beats: its flagship blog Gawker, sports blog Deadspin, consumer tech blog Gizmodo, videogame blog Kotaku, software blog Lifehacker, sci-fi and futurist blog io9, automobile blog Jalopnik and women’s interest blog Jezebel.
Gawker Media’s flagship blog typically publishes anywhere from 30 to 50 posts a day, covering a wide range of topics like celebrity and media industry gossip, news media criticisms and other news stories that are relevant to the New York metropolitan area. While most stories are originally written by its staff writers, it also syndicates content from the sister blogs and occasionally features various firsthand reports and tips submitted by its readers.
Gawker Stalker is a weekly round-up of celebrity sightings in New York City submitted by readers. Since its launch in April 2003, the feature has grown into one of the most popular article topics on the site and drawn heavy criticisms for celebrating celebrity stalking. Its notoriety peaked in March 2006 with the launch of an interactive Gawker Stalker map, which provides real-time coverage of celebrity sightings on a custom Google Maps platform.
Violentacrez and Adrian Chen
On October 10th, 2012, Redditor violentacrez, known for moderating more than 400 subreddits including the banned /r/Jailbait, deleted his account after posting a now-removed goodbye thread in his personal subreddit. Soon after, the link to his farewell was shared in /r/SubredditDrama, where it received 620 points and nearly 500 comments. Around the same time, /r/violentacrez was taken over by several new users, affiliating themselves with the Something Awful forums and /r/ShitRedditSays, reclaiming it as a place to smoke out users who post pedophilia-related commentary.
Later the same day, Redditor POTATO_IN_MY_ANUS submitted a self post to SubredditDrama alleging that violentacrez had been doxed by Gawker writer Adrian Chen, who planned to reveal the user’s personal information in an upcoming story after he had been added as a moderator to /r/CreepShots, a subreddit where users shared scandalous photos of women they had taken without the subject’s knowledge. In chat logs posted by POTATO_IN_MY_ANUS, violentacrez stated that he was concerned a Reddit administrator provided Chen with his real name and a personal photo. On October 5th, violentacrez offered to delete his account in exchange for Gawker to not go to press with the information and they declined.
The same day, Redditor CreeperComforts reportedly received a private message (shown below) from a user named HelloJK stating that they knew the users identity and he had 48 hours to shut down /r/CreepShots. This message came around the same time Jezebel published an article about the Predditors Tumblr which launched in September 2012 to seek out public personal information about /r/CreepShots posters. Though the doxing of violentacres and CreeperComforts were not explicitly related, the timing led many commenters to believe these events were tied together. However, a /r/ShitRedditSays post subtitled "The Admins Sure Doxxed The Ball On This One may allude to the subreddit being involved in finding CreeperComforts’ identity.
In response to these two stories, Redditor karmanaut suggested to the private DefaultMods subreddit that all moderators temporarily ban links from Gawker network sites to persuade them away from personal attacks on moderators. Multiple subreddits cooperated including /r/Politics, /r/MensRights, /r/WoW (World of Warcraft), /r/Borderlands and /r/Cinemagraphs, among others. On the other hand, /r/CircleJerk banned any link that was not from the Gawker network. Adrian Chen responded by tweeting that Reddit is banned from linking to his blog posts, threatening Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedowns. On October 11th, several news media sites picked up on the story including the Daily Dot, Politico, BetaBeat, the Atlantic Wire, the New Statesman and New York Magazine.
Tarantino Script Leak
On January 11th, 2014, Hollywood news site Deadline picked up on a rumor that Quentin Tarantino has completed a draft of a script for his Western follow-up to Django: Unchained, tentatively titled The Hateful Eight, and begun the feedback process with a handful of actors. Then on January 21st, Deadline reported that the director has decided to shelve the project altogether after learning that his script was leaked online by an unknown source. Outraged, Tarantino named several suspect actors whom he had shared the script with and expressed no desire to continue onward with the project:
"I’m going to publish it, and that’s it for now. I give it out to six people, and if I can’t trust them to that degree, then I have no desire to make it. I’ll publish it. I’m done. I’ll move on to the next thing. I’ve got 10 more where that came from.
On January 23rd, Gawker featured a link to a copy of Tarantino’s 146-page leaked script in a post titled “Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script,” which brought in nearly 250,000 views in less than a week. A few days later, on January 27th, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Tarantino has filed a copyright lawsuit against Gawker for publishing a link to the leaked script. According to the complaint submitted to the U.S. District Court in California, Gawker allegedly facilitated the illegal dissemination of Tarantino’s unproduced work by knowingly linking to the leaked file and refusing to remove the post after repeat demands and submissions of DMCA notices. Later that same day, Gawker responded to the director’s legal challenge with a lengthy post speculating various reasons and motives behind Tarantino’s legal action, as well as why it believes his complaints won’t likely hold in court from a legal perspective, since Gawker was not the initial source of the leak. The post ended with the quote “we’ll be fighting this one.”
Gawker received more than 20,000 visitors per day and 500,000 page views per month by May of 2003. In November that year, Denton reported that the site was receiving 30,000 visitors per day and over one million page views per month. By December 3rd, 2007, the site was averaging ten million page views per month. In a memo published by Valleywag in October of 2008, Denton reported that Gawker received over 274 million pageviews for September that year.
Atlantic Wire – Redditors Stand Up to Gawker to Protect Child Pornography
New York Magazine – Reddit Blacklists Gawker in Defense of Creepy Pictures
The Atlantic – Gawker’s Traffic Numbers Are Worse Than Anyone Anticipated#
Hollywood Reporter – Quentin Tarantino Suing Gawker Over Leaked ‘Hateful Eight’ Script