Republican Representative from California Devin Nunes has filed a lawsuit against Twitter and three of its users for defaming his name. He seeks $250 million in damages. The entire legal document is something to behold.
The complaint alleges that Twitter shadow banned Nunes, despite that fact that it’s been repeatedly proven that no such thing exists. It also goes after a Democratic strategist named Liz Mair, who Nunes claims helped facilitate a targeted campaign against Nunes–as well as two anonymous accounts, @DevinNunesMom and @DevinCow. The court filing includes screenshots of certain tweets sent, including one that depicted a “human centipede,” which may be a first for the courts.
the greatest exhibit ever in a federal complaint? pic.twitter.com/2bTSkOcIcq
— Dan Nguyen (@dancow) March 18, 2019
Twitter’s defense will surely be that it is not liable for content posted on the platform thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is a longstanding law that protects platforms. (The company, however, has yet to comment officially on this lawsuit.) The complaint offers very little evidence about the vast conspiracy it alleges from the others, beyond some funny tweets poking at Nunes. Mair, on Twitter, said she is declining comment. The @DevinNunesMom account was suspended some time ago, and @DevinCow has been retweeting support.
The real irony of it all, however, is that @DevinCow wasn’t even a popular Twitter account before today. The complaint says the account had 1,209 followers. As of this morning, it has over 54,000. Meanwhile, Mair is soliciting donations as a result of being sued.
Whatever Nunes is trying to do by singling out these accounts, it’s only making their online presence more prominent. It’s a perfect example of the Streisand effect. And it makes one wonder if Nunes anticipated the inverse impact his case would have.
I reached out to Twitter about the lawsuit and a spokesperson declined comment.