Shiva Ayyadurai, the controversial man who claims to have invented email, has been granted a $750,000 defamation settlement from Gawker Media after writer Sam Biddle branded Ayyadurai a liar in 2012.
Dave Crocker and John Vittal, however, who are credited with writing “several foundational standards documents about messaging over the internet” claimed that the settlement could distort history, and have rebutted Ayyadurai’s email inventor claims.
“I grew up being taught that the truth is always a sufficient defense against claims of defamation,” said Crocker to Gizmodo, who state that Ray Tomlinson invented the basis of email around a decade prior to Ayyadurai. “Given the extensive documentation about the history of email, I’m sorry to find that that the adage no longer holds true.”
“What’s true is true, and you can’t hide from it, and shouldn’t be able to capitalize on thwarting it,” said Vittal, who is credited with creating the email reply and forward functions. “To me, it’s a sad day.”
Ayyadurai stood his ground, however, declaring, “History will reflect that this settlement is a victory for truth.”
“In 1978, a 14-year old Indian boy from Bombay, India and Newark, New Jersey, was tasked with replicating—in electronic form—a secretary’s office desk for managing the entire system of paper communications (inbox, outbox, folders, address book, attachments, etc.); the electronic system did not exist; young Shiva Ayyadurai created that system,” he said in a statement. “It worked and was a huge success; he named it ’email’; he obtained the first U.S. copyright to that invention, and the world’s modern system of electronic mail was born. Dr. Ayyadurai went on to receive four degrees from MIT including a Ph.D.”
Sam Biddle’s Gizmodo piece on Ayyadurai has since been removed “as it is the subject of pending litigation against the prior owners of this site.”
Several other controversial articles have also been removed from various former Gawker Media (now Gizmodo Media) verticals following the company’s bankruptcy and subsequential purchase, including those surrounding Hulk Hogan’s private sex tape, and journalist Ashley Terrill.
Gawker Media settled with Hulk Hogan last week following a lengthy lawsuit backed by billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel that resulted in the company paying out $140 million.
Both Gawker Media and its founder Nick Denton were forced to file for bankruptcy after a court ruled in Hogan’s favor, and Gawker Media has since been bought by Univision, who made it their first act to shut down the media company’s flagship site, Gawker, and rebrand themselves as Gizmodo Media.
Since filing for bankruptcy, Denton was denied the ability to lease his $4.25 million apartment in Manhattan, and he has since moved into a cheaper property. Hogan has since purchased a $1.6 million beach house.