The US representative, Devin Nunes, has sued and a handful of users for defamation and negligence, accusing Twitter of being an "opposition search ship" for harboring insulting Nunes accounts. This is the latest of many recourse against social media platforms for alleged bias against conservative politicians, none of whom has made substantial progress in court.
The Nunes trial focuses on a group of Twitter accounts that, according to Nunes, co-ordinated defamatory attacks against him, mainly "The cow of Devin Nunes"The" mother of Devin Nunes ", currently suspended, and the story of the Republican political consultant Liz Mair. The complaint – published by Fox News this afternoon – quotes many tweets in these reports, claiming that "all aspects of the character, honesty, integrity, ethics and the ability of Nunes to exercising his duties as a US Congressman were malicious ", including accusing Nunes of being racist, claiming that he had obstructed justice in the congressional investigation into the 39, political interference from Russia, and the appellant to "cowpoke treason".
But the lawsuit also claims that Twitter bears legal responsibility for the attacks, since it has "consciously allowed defamation to continue" by not suspending the accounts. "Twitter did nothing to investigate or revise the defamation that appeared prominently on its platform," he says. "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. "
Nunes also accused Twitter of "shadowbanning" his account, referring to an incident in which the names of some Twitter users failed to appear as auto suggestion. Twitter had previously indicated that the problem affected a large number of accounts and resulted from the design of an automated system and not an intention to demote specific accounts. (This is also outside the traditional definition of "shadowbanning" because the accounts were still accessible via searches and subscribers.) The Twitter spokesman declined to comment on Nunes' lawsuit.
According to Nunes, the importance of Twitter gives it "the duty to exercise ordinary and reasonable care" in maintaining order in matters of defamation. "The use by Twitter of its platform as a portal of defamation of political agents and their customers goes against all the principles of American democracy," says the lawsuit. "A candidate without Twitter is a losing candidate.The opportunity to use Twitter is an essential element of modern citizenship," because "Twitter is not just a website: it's the place of the modern city. "He claims $ 250 million in damages for Twitter's alleged negligence.
Some courts have ruled that Twitter is a kind of public square – but in the context of public officials in contact with users, not Twitter allowing people on the platform. Until now, judges have supported the right of web platforms to ban or demote users as they please, and they have avoided holding them responsible for user messages A court of appeal thrown a lawsuit white nationalist Jared Taylor on Twitter and a huge case against Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple just suffered a defeat in court. And the California Supreme Court ruled that Yelp could not be required to take a defamatory user post, a decision that the US Supreme Court standing in January.
If these tweets are legally defamatory, Nunes' charges against Twitter could be thwarted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states that Web platforms are not responsible for the content posted by users. (We also do not know if a court would find them defamatory – the mere fact of calling someone a racist, for example, is a defensible statement of opinion.) That the argument Neglect of Nunes is much stronger, nor that a court is likely to accede to its request to have all accounts suspended by Twitter.
Regardless of the degree of progress of this lawsuit, Twitter and other platforms are under fire from critics in Congress, where CEO Jack Dorsey appeared for two hearings last year. Technological companies have every interest in avoiding angry lawmakers, even though the courts have been quite understanding.