In what he is calling “the first of many,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Monday filed a lawsuit in Virginia state court against Twitter and a handful of its users seeking $250 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages. The congressman said on Fox News Monday evening that he is starting with Twitter because “they are the main proliferator” of “fake news and slanderous news.”
His complaint accuses the social media giant of “shadow-banning conservatives” — including himself — to influence the 2018 elections, censoring conservative viewpoints, and “ignoring” complaints of abusive behavior.
In addition to Nunes, Twitter in 2018 also reportedly shadow-banned conservative Reps Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).
Nunes told Fox News host Sean Hannity Monday night that the lawsuit should be thought of as a continuation of the Russia investigation, alleging that there was an “orchestrated effort” in 2018 to hamstring his work which involved people targeting him from anonymous accounts in violation of Twitter’s rules.
He said that several fake news stories regarding either the Russia investigation or him proliferated on Twitter and that the people behind them “should be held accountable because if we don’t, our First Amendment rights are at stake, here.”
The California congressman alleged that while Twitter was regulating his tweets, it was pushing out counter-narratives “with the algorithms they develop.”
“They need to come clean,” he declared. “They’re not a public square. They’re content developers.”
Nunes pointed out that Twitter shadow-banned him last summer ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
“How is it possible that I can be attacked relentlessly hundreds of times a day by fake accounts that they claim in their terms of service should not be there?” he asked Hannity.
“I guarantee you that if I put something out that was sexually explicit, or attacked someone personally, they would stop it,” Nunes said.
But, as the congressman pointed out, Twitter never did anything to stop all of the accounts that were coming after him or other conservatives in 2018.
Nunes vowed that he would not let “all these fake news stories that were written about this investigation — about this hoax — stand.”
“We’re going to challenge every single one of them in court. We’re just starting with Twitter,” he explained.
Nunes hinted at another reason he was suing Twitter. “It’s important to know who was behind putting those fake news stories out,” he told Hannity.