Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) filed a lawsuit against Twitter and several of its users on Monday seeking $250 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages, reports Fox News.
The suit accuses the social media giant of "shadow-banning conservatives," including himself, in order to influence the 2018 US elections through the systematic censorship of certain opinions - while "ignoring" multiple lawful complaints of abusive behavior.
Also included in the lawsuit are several accounts which Nunes claims defamed him - accusing the lawmaker of being a racist, having "white supremacist friends" and turning out "worse than Jacob Wohl," a 21-year-old political exhibitionist and former investment adviser who was charged with 14 counts of securities fraud in 2017.
The lawsuit alleges defamation, conspiracy, and negligence, and seeks not only damages, but also an injunction compelling Twitter to turn over the identities behind numerous accounts he says have harassed and defamed him.
Although federal law ordinarily exempts services like Twitter from defamation liability, Nunes' suit said the platform has taken such an active role in curating and banning content -- as opposed to merely hosting it -- that it should face liability like any other organization that defames. -Fox News
"Twitter created and developed the content at issue in this case by transforming false accusations of criminal conduct, imputed wrongdoing, dishonesty and lack of integrity into a publicly available commodity used by unscrupulous political operatives and their donor/clients as a weapon," reads the lawsuit. "Twitter is 'responsible' for the development of offensive content on its platform because it in some way specifically encourages development of what is offensive about the content."
Nunes' lawsuit against Twitter basically argues that Twitter does so much to shape content--censorship, shadow-banning, terms of service--that it functions as a de facto content provider. https://t.co/3ck87y5m4I— Byron York (@ByronYork) March 18, 2019
Twitter is accused of supporting "an orchestrated defamation campaign of stunning breadth and scope, one that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life," after the platform allowed defamatory material to be spread about Nunes.
The complaint also named specific Twitter accounts that spread allegedly defamatory material about Nunes. One defendant, identified as "Liz" Mair, purportedly published tweets that "implied that Nunes colluded with prostitutes and cocaine addicts, that Nunes does cocaine, and that Nunes was involved in a 'Russian money laundering front,'" according to Nunes' lawyers. -Fox News
5. OMG Nunes included this tweet in his complaint. pic.twitter.com/cLgtNurMP1— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) March 18, 2019
According to the complaint, "Twitter did nothing to investigate or review the defamation that appeared in plain view on its platform. Twitter consciously allowed the defamation of Nunes to continue" despite reports and reviews by Twitter's content moderators.
"As part of its agenda to squelch Nunes’ voice, cause him extreme pain and suffering, influence the 2018 Congressional election, and distract, intimidate and interfere with Nunes’ investigation into corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election, Twitter did absolutely nothing," the complaint continues.
On Monday, Twitter admitted to shadowbanning The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis.
Tweeting a passage last week from former FBI attorney Lisa Page's Congressional testimony discussing the FBI's rush to find connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, Davis pointed out the irony of Hillary Clinton's campaign employing former UK spy Christopher Steele, a foreign national, "working with Russians to obtain damaging information about Donald Trump."
Twitter gave me no notice or explanation when it shadowbanned one of my Tweets about Russian interference in our elections. But what's worse is how Twitter apparently gives its users the fraudulent impression that their tweets, which Twitter secretly bans, are still public.— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 18, 2019