Nunes sues Twitter, some users, looking for more than $ 250 million, alleging "anti-conservative anti-secrecy bans"


California GOP representative Devin Nunes on Monday sued for $ 250 million in compensatory damages and $ 350,000 in punitive damages against Twitter and a handful of users, accusing the site of social media to "keep the shadow", including himself, to influence the 2018 elections, systematically censoring divergent views and "totally ignoring" the lawful complaints of repeated abusive behavior.

In a lawsuit filed Monday by Fox News in a Virginia court, Nunes claimed that Twitter wanted to derail his work in the House Intelligence Committee, which he chaired until 2019, when 39 he was investigating alleged abuse of supervision by the government. Nunes said that Twitter was guilty of "knowingly hosting and monetizing a clearly abusive, hateful and defamatory content – offering both a voice and a financial incentive to defamation – thereby facilitating defamation on its platform. form".

The lawsuit alleged libel, conspiracy and negligence and sought not only damages but also a binding injunction on Twitter to reveal the identity of many testimonies that he alleged harassed and defamed him. The prosecution is distinct from Nunes' work on the House Intelligence Committee, of which he is now the lead member.

"Twitter is a machine," Fox News told Nunes' personal attorney, Steven S. Biss. "It's a modern Tammany Hall." Congressman Nunes intends to hold Twitter fully accountable for his abusive behavior and misconduct. "

Although federal law exempts ordinary services such as Twitter from defamation responsibility, Nunes' complaint said that the platform had played such an active role in the preservation and prohibition of content (instead of just hosting it), that she should face the responsibility of any other organization that defames.

"Twitter created and developed the content in this case by turning false accusations of criminal behavior, alleged wrongdoing, dishonesty and lack of integrity into a publicly available product used by unscrupulous political agents and their donors / customers as a weapon, "Nunes & # 39; the legal team wrote. "Twitter is" responsible "for the development of offending content on its platform, as it specifically encourages the development of offensive content."

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified before the House Committee hearing on trade and energy on Twitter's algorithms and content monitoring in September 2018.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified before the House Committee hearing on trade and energy on Twitter's algorithms and content monitoring in September 2018.
(REUTERS / Chris Wattie, File)

In addition, as the complaint states, Twitter must exercise due diligence to avoid receiving defamatory content from outside because of its increasingly important role in day-to-day business.

"Access to Twitter is essential for meaningful participation in modern American democracy," the complaint said. "A candidate without Twitter is a misplaced candidate The ability to use Twitter is an essential part of modern citizenship A presence on Twitter is essential for any individual who is a candidate or who participates in any level of political organization in modern America.Because Twitter is not just a website: it is the place of the modern city: Twitter is the owner's equivalent private a public forum that has fully opened its property to the general public in order to allow free expression and public debate – in fact, what Twitter has always claimed to be. "

Twitter's president, Jack Dorsey, has already told Congress that his platform is a kind of "digital public square", although he insisted that Twitter, as a private company, retain the right to to censor speeches.

Largely because of Twitter's actions, Nunes "has undergone an orchestrated smear campaign of staggering magnitude and scope, that no one should ever have to endure and suffer from. all his life "over the past year, according to the complaint.

"Twitter is a machine – it's a Tammany Hall of modern times."

– Steven S. Biss, Devin Nunes' personal attorney

The complaint also mentioned specific Twitter accounts broadcasting allegedly defamatory information about Nunes. One of the defendants, identified as "Liz" Mair, allegedly published tweets that "implied that Nunes was complicit in prostitutes and cocaine addicts, that Nunes was making cocaine and that Nunes was involved in a" Russian brink of money laundering. "money," according to his lawyers.


The complaint cited a tweet from Mair dated June 22, 2018 implying that Nunes had invested in a cellar that "allegedly used underage prostitutes to solicit investments".

Mair did not respond to Fox News's request for comment. Fox News also contacted Twitter to comment on the lawsuit but did not receive an immediate response. (The prosecution is a joint and several liability that allows the plaintiffs to recover from a defendant and then leaves the defendants to settle what everyone owes.)

The complaint was also known as "Devin Nunes's Mom", a person who, with Twitter's consent, misappropriated Nunes 'name, falsely imitated Nunes' mother, and created and maintained an account on Twitter (@DevinNunesMom) for the sole purpose of attacking, defaming, denigrating and degrading Nunes ".

Nunes 'lawyers wrote: "In her endless stream of tweets, Devin Nunes' mother maliciously attacked all aspects of character, honesty, integrity, ethicism. and the ability of Nunes to perform his duties as a US Congressman ".

A tweet from the account, cited by the complaint, contained a rough drawing of Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump and Nunes in a physically related symbiotic arrangement, along with characters from the horror film "The Human Centipede (First Sequence)".

As of Monday afternoon, the @DevinNunesMom account was suspended by Twitter when Fox News tried to access it. The complaint stated that "Twitter only suspended the account in 2019 after Nunes' real mother, Toni Dian Nunes, complained … Twitter allowed @DevinNunesMom, for example, to tweet and retweet with impunity throughout 2018. "

However, according to the complaint, "Twitter has done nothing to investigate or review the defamation that appears clearly on its platform Twitter has consciously let defamation continue", despite the information and criticism allegedly commented by moderators Twitter content.


"As part of his program to quell Nunes 'voice, to cause him extreme pain and suffering, to influence the 2018 congressional elections and to distract, intimidate and impede Nunes' investigation into corruption." and Russia's participation in the 2016 presidential election, Twitter has done absolutely nothing., "the complaint said.

Another account cited as defendant was "Devin Nunes" Cow or @DevinCow, who allegedly called Nunes "cowpoke traitor" and criminal "pious and worthless". According to the Nunes team, the timing and substance of the tweets suggested that Mair was working in conjunction with the @DevinCow and @DevinNunesMom accounts.

Calif. GOP Rep Devin Nunes sued Twitter for more than $ 250 million.

Calif. GOP Rep Devin Nunes sued Twitter for more than $ 250 million.
(AP, File)

The complaint also accuses Twitter of "banning the shadow" of Nunes in 2018 on Twitter in order to restrict its freedom of expression and amplify the abusive and hateful content published and republished by Mair, "Devin Nunes", and other accounts.


"The ban on shadows was intentional," the complaint continued. "It was designed to interfere and influence federal elections and to interfere with the ongoing Nunes Inquiry as a member of the House Standing Standing Committee on Intelligence." Twitter's actions affected election results. combination of the parallel ban and Twitter's refusal to enforce its terms and rules against clear and current abuses and hateful behavior have caused Nunes to lose the support of its constituents. "

The lawsuit cited numerous articles, including a Vice News article from last summer, reporting that Twitter had, for a time, downplayed the visibility of prominent curators in its search results.

On Monday, Sean Davis, editor of The Federalist, wrote that he had recently been reportedly the victim of a form of ban on Twitter on Twitter.

"Twitter did not give me any notice or explanation when it banned one of my Tweets about Russia's interference in our elections," Davis wrote. "But what is worse, is that Twitter apparently gives its users the fraudulent impression that their tweets, which Twitter secretly bans, are still public."

Davis said that Twitter "claimed in his email that he was deleting himself by mistake[d]"A completely innocuous tweet about the congressional public testimony, but he did not explain why he was letting the tweet – and statistics showing no commitment – visible to me when I'm logged in. Do users cheat? is a bug or feature? "

Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, acknowledged on Joe Rogan's podcast earlier this month that the platform had been too aggressive to ban certain accounts.

Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's legal manager, said the company would learn from its mistakes.

"We define a line when people use their voice and platform to use their voice to silence someone on the platform," Gadde said on the podcast. "It is rare that we completely ban someone without warning."

Catherine Herridge of Fox News contributed to this report.

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