California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes sued Twitter and three users for defamation, seeking $250 million in damages.
Nunes, a close Trump ally and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Virginia alleging that Twitter “shadow bans” conservatives while helping their critics.
Along with Twitter, Nunes is suing two parody accounts that dubbed themselves “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow” as well as Republican operative Liz Mair.
The suit accuses Twitter of facilitating defamation on its platform" by "ignoring lawful complaints about offensive content and by allowing that content to remain accessible to the public" despite violating its terms of service.
"Twitter, by its actions, intended to generate and proliferate the false and defamatory statements about Plaintiff in order to influence the outcome of the 2018 Congressional election and to intimidate Plaintiff and interfere with his important investigation of corruption by the Clinton campaign and alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election," the complaint says.
The suit goes on to allege that Mair "relentlessly smeared and defamed" by citing a report accusing Nunes of being involved in a scandal involving underage prostitutes and cocaine.
"Defendant, Devin Nunes’ Mom, is a person who, with Twitter’s consent, hijacked Nunes’ name, falsely impersonated Nunes’ mother, and created and maintained an account on Twitter (@DevinNunesMom) for the sole purpose of attacking, defaming, disparaging and demeaning Nunes," the suit adds.
The suit complained that "Devin Nunes’ Mom stated that Nunes had turned out worse than Jacob Wohl; falsely accused Nunes of being a racist, having 'white supremacist friends' and distributing 'disturbing inflammatory racial propaganda.'"
Nunes can’t win:
Nunes, who has a much tougher burden to meet to prove he was defamed because he is a public figure, cannot win this lawsuit for several reasons, MSNBC’s Steve Benen explained.
“For one thing, though far-right conspiracy theorists are convinced that Twitter and other tech giants are secretly undermining conservatives, there is no evidence to bolster such a plot. For another, as the Associated Press’ report noted, the Communication Decency Act shields online enterprises such as Twitter from being held liable for content published by their users,” Benen wrote. “There’s also that pesky First Amendment – which has protected Americans who ridicule public figures for more than two centuries.”
“In the court of courts, it’s unlikely to be successful,” attorney Jim Bickerton told The Washington Post. “In the court of public opinion, that may be where he’s hoping to get the real traction.”
Nunes vows more lawsuits:
Nunes told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Tuesday that the lawsuit against Twitter was “the first of many.”
“What we’re doing here, is we’re actually going after Twitter first,” he said. “They’re the main proliferator, and they spread this fake news and this slanderous news.”
“I guarantee you that if I put something out that was sexually explicit, or attack someone personally, they would stop it,” he complained. “They would say this is a sensitive tweet. They never did that to any of the people that were coming after me or other conservatives.”