Nunes sues Twitter, users for more than $250M

Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHouse passes annual intelligence bill Democrats' opposition research got exposed — this time, not by the Russians GOP consultant sued by Nunes asks for help paying legal costs MORE (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and its former chairman, is suing Twitter and a number of its users for more than $250 million.

The lawsuit filed Monday alleges the social media giant censored conservative voices by "shadow-banning" them, which Nunes says potentially impacted the 2018 midterm election results. Others named in the lawsuit include GOP operative Liz Mair, Mair Strategies, "Devin Nunes' Mom" (@DevinNunesMom) and "Devin Nunes' cow" (@DevinCow), two parody accounts that mocked the Trump ally and California Republican.

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Nunes accuses Twitter of "facilitating defamation on its platform" by "ignoring lawful complaints about offensive content and by allowing that content to remain accessible to the public" despite alleged violations of its terms of service and rules.

"Twitter, by its actions, intended to generate and proliferate the false and defamatory statements about Plaintiff in order to influence the outcome of the 2018 Congressional election and to intimidate Plaintiff and interfere with his important investigation of corruption by the Clinton campaign and alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election," the lawsuit reads.

The suit alleges Mair "relentlessly smeared and defamed" the California Republican in citing allegedly false reports accusing him of being involved with a winery embroiled in a scandal involving the solicitation of underage prostitutes and cocaine. Nunes has strongly denied the accusations in the report.

The lawsuit also accuses the social media platform of failing to remove "libelous" statements made about Nunes posted by Twitter handles @DevinNunesMom and @DevinCow.

"Defendant, Devin Nunes’ Mom, is a person who, with Twitter’s consent, hijacked Nunes’ name, falsely impersonated Nunes’ mother, and created and maintained an account on Twitter (@DevinNunesMom) for the sole purpose of attacking, defaming, disparaging and demeaning Nunes," it states.

Some of the remarks cited in the lawsuit include the following: "Devin Nunes’ Mom stated that Nunes had turned out worse than Jacob Wohl; falsely accused Nunes of being a racist, having 'white supremacist friends' and distributing 'disturbing inflammatory racial propaganda.'" 

The lawsuit goes on to state that while the "full scope of the conspiracy" remains unknown, including the names of participants and the extent of any Democratic donor involvement, Nunes’s legal team reserves the right to amend the complaint as more information becomes available.

The suit asks for $250 million in compensatory damages and an additional $350,000 in punitive damages.

The @DevinNunesMom account has been suspended, but the @DevinCow account remained intact as of Monday evening.

Republicans in the House have been highly critical of Silicon Valley companies, arguing there is an anti-conservative bias.

Mair and Twitter declined The Hill’s request for comment.

Twitter previously denied allegations of shadow banning, attributing the situation to an algorithm intended to reduce the presence of white supremacists and other extremists on the platform. The social media platform has strongly denied political ideology plays a role in the company's content decisions.