Devin Nunes Files Major Defamation Lawsuit Against Twitter

File-This Oct. 24, 2017, file photo shows House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington. Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations are pushing a conservative meme related to the investigation of Russian election interference, researchers say. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has filed a major defamation lawsuit against Twitter and a handful of users that seeks $250 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages, according to a complaint filed in Virginia State Court on Monday.

The complaint, first reported by Fox News, cites Twitter’s practice of “shadow-banning” conservatives — including Nunes — in order to influence the 2018 elections, censorship of opposing viewpoints, and ignoring lawful complaints of repeated abusive behavior.

The 40-page complaint accuses Twitter of “knowingly hosting and monetizing content that is clearly abusive, hateful and defamatory – providing both a voice and financial incentive to the defamers – thereby facilitating defamation on its platform.”

For example, one defendant — communications strategist Liz Mair — 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.'”

The complaint also pointed to another Twitter account named “Devin Nunes’ Mom,” whom it said attacked, defamed, disparaged, and demeaned Nunes throughout the 2018 campaign.

“In her endless barrage of tweets, Devin Nunes’ Mom maliciously attacked every aspect of Nunes’ character, honesty, integrity, ethics and fitness to perform his duties as a United States Congressman,” the complaint said. It said the account was only suspended after Nunes’ actual mother complained to Twitter.

Mair commented Monday after news of the lawsuit broke: “Guys, I’m declining comment on this for now but DEVIN NUNES IS SUING ME.” She then posted a link-to for people to donate funds to cover her legal expenses.

The complaint also charged Twitter of “intentional” shadow-banning of Nunes’ account — the practice whereby one’s account is hidden when other users type in the person’s name or when one’s tweets are not able to be seen by other users, unbeknownst to the person whose account or tweets are being hidden.

“It was calculated to interfere with and influence the federal election and interfere with Nunes’ ongoing investigation as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Twitter’s actions affected the election results. The combination of the shadow-ban and Twitter’s refusal to enforce its Terms and Rules in the face of clear and present abuse and hateful conduct caused Nunes to lose support amongst voters,” it said.

“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 states.

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