UPDATE: Mair has issued a response.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) on Monday filed a lawsuit against Twitter, Republican strategist Liz Mair and multiple anonymous accounts for "shadow-banning conservatives" in an attempt to influence the outcome of his 2018 Congressional reelection campaign. Nunes is seeking $250 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages in the lawsuit. He also wants Twitter to hand over the identities of numerous anonymous accounts, including @DevinNunesMom and @DevinCow, who he says harassed and defamed him.
"Twitter created and developed the content at issue in this case by transforming false accusations of criminal conduct, imputed wrongdoing, dishonesty and lack of integrity into a publicly available commodity used by unscrupulous political operatives and their donor/clients as a weapon," the suit stated. "Twitter is 'responsible' for the development of offensive content on its platform because it in some way specifically encourages development of what is offensive about the content."
The lawsuit also cites former Republican National Committee online communication director Liz Mair's tweets and videos about the Congressman, saying she attempted to push the idea that
To be fair, I think the @fresnobee writing up your investment in a winery that allegedly used underage hookers to solicit investment-- an allegation you've known about for years, during which you've stayed invested in it, I might add-- did surprise you. https://t.co/acMlAXjPP8— BrandValue$4B (@LizMair) June 23, 2018
I actually agree with this. I have never thought Congress forcing a release of Trump’s tax returns was wise. However, Devin Nunes is still a clown with big league ethical issues that may well cost him his seat in 2020. Nearly happened in 2018. https://t.co/t4AdLDLGA1— BrandValue$4B (@LizMair) February 13, 2019
The lawsuit seeks to hold Twitter equally accountable for the content because the social media platform "has a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid hosting outwardly defamatory content," Fox News reported. As Twitter takes a more active role in censoring conservative content, they should be held responsible for the content they do allow on their platform, the lawsuit suggests.
"Access to Twitter is essential for meaningful participation in modern-day American Democracy," the complaint stated. "A candidate without Twitter is a losing candidate. The ability to use Twitter is a vital part of modern citizenship. A presence on Twitter is essential for an individual to run for office or engage in any level of political organizing in modern America. That is because Twitter is not merely a website: it is the modern town square. Twitter is equivalent to the private owner of a public forum who has fully opened its property to the general public for purposes of permitting the public’s free expression and debate. That is, in fact, what Twitter has always claimed to be."
Twitter said they do not shadow ban people.
"We do not shadow ban. You are always able to see the tweets from accounts you follow (although you may have to do more work to find them, like go directly to their profile). And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology," the social media platform said in a statement.
Mair declined to comment, saying she has yet to read through the lawsuit.
Here's the full lawsuit:
This post has been updated to include a statement from Twitter.