A social media giant and three of its users have come under attack by California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes for alleged defamation, according to The New York Times.
Nunes filed a lawsuit in Henrico County Circuit Court in Virginia on Tuesday claiming Twitter allowed the users to smear him due to its political agenda.
The staunch Trump ally is seeking $250 million in damages, the Times said.
Nunes’ lawsuits renews the accusation that Twitter engages in “shadow bans” for Republicans while actively helping their political rivals.
The Times said Nunes’ complaint “described the objectionable tweets from the three users as something ‘that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life.’”
Included in the lawmaker’s selection of offensive tweets were those indicating he “'had brought ‘shame’ to his family and that he was voted ‘Most Likely to Commit Treason’ in high school, and that one of them included a cartoon image of a sexual act with Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.”
Republican strategist Liz Mair was singled out in the complaint, along with two parody accounts: @DevinNunesMom, which was suspended last year, and @DevinCow, which the Times noted is still active.
It is unlikely that Twitter will be held to account for its users’ posts, experts told the Times, but Nunes appears to be using the situation to further bolster the case that Twitter is actively seeking to undermine Republicans on its platform.
“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 complaint said.
Nunes’ decision to file the lawsuit unsurprisingly has triggered the Streisand effect: the Times reported that @DevinCow boasted just around 1,200 followers prior to the Republican’s lawsuit; as of Tuesday morning, the account was at 46,000 followers and counting.