A judge ruled on Friday that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) cannot sue Twitter over statements made on its platform by a fake Internet cow, according to the Fresno Bee.
- The Republican lawmaker also has no right to sue Twitter over posts by someone parodying his mother, or a GOP strategist.
- Judge John Marshall said in his decision that Twitter is “immune from the defamation claims of” Nunes because of federal law stipulating that social media companies are not liable for what users share on their platforms.
- Marshall added that the lawmaker wants the court to treat Twitter as the publisher or speaker of the content posted by its users “based on its allowing or not allowing certain content to be on its internet platform.”
- “The court refuses to do so,” the judge said.
Nunes sued Twitter, the two parody accounts known as Devin Nunes’ Cow and Devin Nunes’ Mom and strategist Liz Mair in March 2019. He alleged the latter three had defamed him online, ruining his reputation and causing him to win his 2018 election by a narrower margin than normal. He accused Twitter of being negligent for allowing the alleged defamation.
- Twitter’s lawyers argued in their motion to dismiss that the company was immune under federal law.
- Nunes attorney Steven Biss “argued that Twitter’s actions in allegedly favoring more liberal content over conservation content and allegedly promoting tweets that made fun of Nunes” meant federal law should not apply in this case.
Marshall’s ruling does not outright dismiss the case but removes Twitter as a defendant. The case against the parody accounts and Mair is pending.
However, the Bee noted that Marshall’s ruling is “a blow to Nunes nonetheless, as he was trying to push Twitter into revealing the identities of the two accounts, who have been mocking him online anonymously.”
The newspaper also noted that this is but one of six lawsuits Nunes has filed:
He is suing four news organizations: CNN; The Washington Post; Hearst, the owner of Esquire Magazine; and McClatchy, the owner of the largest newspaper in Nunes’ district, The Fresno Bee.
He is also suing Fusion GPS, the political opposition research firm responsible for the so-called Steele dossier on President Donald Trump.