Politician Sues Twitter For $350 Million Over Fake Parody Accounts

A controversial politician is suing Twitter and some users for more than US$250 million.

Devin Nunes of California, the controversial, arch-conservative former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is suing Twitter and several of its users for more than US$250 million (AUD$352 million), over defamation and negligence.

The defendants include two anonymous parody accounts, "Devin Nunes' Mom" and "Devin Nunes' Cow," and Liz Mair, a Republican communications consultant who has attacked Nunes on Twitter.

The suit, filed in state court in Henrico County, Virginia, accuses Twitter of "knowingly hosting and monetizing content that is clearly abusive, hateful and defamatory."

Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act provides internet services with immunity from liability for material posted by their users.

According to Variety, Nunes vowed on Sean Hannity's Fox News show Monday night that many more suits are on the way.

"Our First Amendment rights are at stake here," he said.

Nunes' suit also accuses Twitter of censoring "viewpoints with which it disagrees" and "shadow-banning conservatives."

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Twitter told CBS News, "We don't have a new comment on the case specifically," but pointed to  "what we've said previously and repeatedly" on the issue, including "during five hours of public testimony" to a House panel last September.

In its prior explanation, Twitter defined shadow banning as "deliberately making someone's content undiscoverable to everyone except the person who posted it, unbeknownst to the original poster."

"We do not shadow ban," the company insisted.

"... And we certainly don't shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology."

But, Twitter added:

"We do rank tweets and search results. We do this because Twitter is most useful when it's immediately relevant. These ranking models take many signals into consideration to best organize tweets for timely relevance. We must also address bad-faith actors who intend to manipulate or detract from healthy conversation."

Still, some conservatives, including President Trump, are unconvinced that Twitter doesn't shadow ban.