California Rep. Devin Nunes filed a lawsuit against Twitter on Monday, claiming the social media site has “shadow banned” conservatives.
Nunes, a Republican, also accused Twitter
of publishing defamatory content — including from a handle that purported to be Nunes own mother, according to the complaint filed in Virginia state court.
The suit accuses Twitter of “knowingly hosting and monetizing content that is clearly abusive, hateful and defamatory… thereby facilitating defamation on its platform.”
Nunes claimed Twitter “shadow banned” his account, purposefully blocking the content he posted and limiting his reach on the site.
He alleges that the social media site did this purposefully to elevate the alleged defamatory statements made against him.
“Twitter shadow-banned Plaintiff in order to restrict his free speech and to amplify the abusive and hateful content published,” the complaint reads.
Nunes is seeking $250 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.
Federal law typically exempts social media platforms from facing charges of defamation, but Nunes argues that because Twitter actively curates the content on its site, it should be held accountable for defamatory content.
As evidence of the apparent abuse, Nunes’s legal team included a number of tweets posted by the user @DevinNunesMom.
“Between February 2018 and March 2019, Twitter allowed @DevinNunesMom to post hundreds of egregiously false, defamatory, insulting abusive, hateful, scandalous and vile statements about Nunes that without question violated Twitter’s Terms of Service and Rules,” the complaint, which was first reported by Fox News, reads.
The Twitter account, which has since been disabled, posted missives like: “Devin might be a unscrupulous, craven, back-stabbing, charlatan and traitor, but he’s no Ted Cruz,” according to the lawsuit.
The Nunes legal team also pointed to another account, “Devin Nunes’ Cow,” which called him things like “treasonous cowpoke.”
The account also wrote about Nunes: “He’s udder-ly worthless and its pasture time to move him to prison.”
A spokesperson from Twitter declined to comment.