Devin Nunes, a Republican from California, has been sued by Twitter and three users for defamation, claiming that the users were smeared him and the platform allowed him to happen because of a political agenda. complaint, filed in Virginia on Monday, seeks $ 250 million in damages. In making his case, Mr. Nunes, a loyal ally of President Trump and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, repeated several common Republican complaints that Twitter has repeatedly denied: that it censors Republicans, "shadow bans" their accounts and actively helps their opponents
While absorbing criticism comes with the territory for politicians, the complaint described the objectionable tweets from the three users as something "that no human being should ever bear and suffer in their entire lives."
Mr. Nunes singled out Liz Mair, a Republican strategist who said on Twitter that she would not comment on the lawsuit, and two parody accounts: @DevinNunesMom, which was suspended last year, and @DevinCow which is still active . The complaint says that Ms. Mair coordinated with anonymous accounts on a vicious defamation campaign but did not offer evidence that she was behind or communicated with them, except for one tweet encouraging people to follow @DevinCow
Experts generally say the law protects large internet platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube from liability based on what their users publish. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act says they should not be "treated as the publisher or speaker" of the content – allowing platforms to exist without having to preapprove any post for potential legal issues
But the complaint by Mr. Nunes seeks to portray tweets directed at him as evidence of greater efforts by Twitter to undermine Republicans – a frequent rallying cry of conservatives. Mr. Nunes was a key figure in House's Russia investigation, and a frequent target for critics who said he was abusing his authority by hindering investigations to protect Mr. Trump
"As part of its agenda to squelch Nunes 'voice, it causes 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 said.
Twitter declined to comment on the lawsuit. But in public statements, including contentious House committee hearings in September, executives have denied any political bias or agendas. Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter, told the House Committee that they had found no difference in reach of tweets by Democrats and those by Republicans
Mr. Nunes repeated the debunked claim that the social network was "shadow banning" Republicans, including him. Shadow banning – the act of a platform allowing someone to post but not allow others to see the post, effectively making them invisible – became and a political catch phrase in July, when a Vice News article used the term to characterize a Twitter bug that was affecting some prominent conservatives
In fact, the bug affected their accounts only briefly would not appear on the network's search results when a user searched for their names; the reach of their posts was unaffected. But the assertion was still used by many, including Mr. Trump, as evidence of bias against conservatives.
The lawsuit by Mr. Nunes had the unintended effect of sharply increasing the reach of @DevinCow, the parody account that had around 1,200 followers before the lawsuit was filed. The account was up to 43,000 followers as of Tuesday morning and fast growing