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Rep. Devin Nunes is suing Twitter, alleging 'shadow-banning' of conservatives and defamation by users

He wants more than $250 million in damages

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is suing Twitter and a collection of users, alleging that the social media company has "shadow-banned" conservatives and that users have defamed him on the platform, according to Fox News.

Nunes is seeking $250 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages in a lawsuit that assigns a significant amount of blame to Twitter for what it allows, and does not allow, on the site.

"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 donors/clients as a weapon," Nunes' lawyers wrote. "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."

What are the details?

Nunes' lawsuit cites media reports of instances in which Twitter allegedly suppressed the visibility and reach of conservative content on the social media site, including a specific instance in 2018 when Nunes says Twitter shadow-banned him to "restrict his free speech" and "amplify the abusive and hateful content" posted by a user under the fake identity of Devin Nunes' mother.

Nunes also singles out specific accounts such as @DevinNunesMom and @DevinCow and claimed Twitter "did nothing to investigate or review the defamation that appeared in plain view on its platform."

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has acknowledged that the company's user bans have been too aggressive in some cases.

Does he have a case?

Social media sites are usually not subject to defamation liability, according to Fox News, but Nunes claims that Twitter takes such an active role in policing content that it must bear responsibility for damage done to Nunes on the site.

"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 lawsuit claims.

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