Peter Thiel, the tech billionaire who is attempting to destroy Gawker Media by funding lawsuits against it, has long served on the Facebook board of directors.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, onstage at the Code Conference with CTO Mike Schroepfer, told Kara Swisher that because Thiel isn't using Facebook resources to go after Gawker, it's not Facebook's problem.
"Issues of independence in media are key to democracy," Sandberg said. "Peter did what he did on his own. Not as a board member — and you should talk to him."
There's some recent precedent here. Back in February, when Facebook board member Marc Andreessen made an offensive tweet toward Indians in the aftermath of Facebook's Free Basics mess, Mark Zuckerberg quickly distanced the company from Andreessen's remarks.
Sandberg says the Thiel thing is different.
"It almost looked like [Andreessen] was speaking for Facebook," she explained. "There's been no implication that [Thiel] was speaking for Facebook."
In response to an audience question from ex-Vox Media editor Joshua Topolsky, Sandberg added that "these are hard issues, and no one's going to pretend it's easy for the companies."
"Peter did what he did as an independent person and he didn't get any Facebook resources," Sandberg argued. "Gawker Media is a partner, they’re in our program ... this was something done independently with no Facebook resources."
Nick Denton, the CEO of Gawker Media, will be onstage at the Code Conference tomorrow.
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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.