Rep. Devin Nunes filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter on Monday in Virginia state court.
The lawsuit accuses the popular social media site of "shadow-banning conservatives" — including Nunes, a California Republican — while profiting from abusive behavior and language allegedly perpetrated by liberal and left-wing Twitter accounts, including two apparent spoof accounts: Devin Nunes' Cow and Devin Nunes' Mom, both of which are listed as defendants.
Shadow banning is the act of suppressing or burying online content so that it is effectively inaccessible to the public, without actually blocking or suspending a user's account.
The account Devin Nunes' Mom has since been suspended by Twitter.
Liz Mair, a political analyst with the left-leaning advocacy group Swamp Accountability Project, is the only person named in the lawsuit. She told the Visalia Times-Delta that she had not been notified of any pending legal action against her and declined to comment further.
“Twitter is a machine," Nunes' personal attorney, Steven S. Biss, told Fox News. "It is a modern-day Tammany Hall. Congressman Nunes intends to hold Twitter fully accountable for its abusive behavior and misconduct.”
Neither Nunes nor Biss returned Times-Delta requests for comment. The lawsuit, also uploaded by Fox News, is not available in Virginia's online legal database. The document was uploaded but not stamped with a seal by any official government agency or court.
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Typically, social media websites are exempt from defamation liability. Nunes' legal team argues, however, that Twitter is complicit in the defamation by "knowingly hosting and monetizing" abusive content on its service.
"Twitter knew the defamation was (and is) happening. Twitter let it happen because Twitter had (and has) a political agenda and motive," the legal briefing states. "Twitter allowed (and allows) its platform to serve as a portal of defamation in order to undermine public confidence in (Nunes) and to benefit his opponents and opponents of the Republican Party."
Last November, Nunes faced the toughest political battle of his 16-year career against Democratic upstart Andrew Janz. While Nunes defeated Janz by a five-point margin, it was the closest any challenger had come to toppling the congressman since his first 2002 campaign.
Nunes' lawsuit now attributes the close race to Twitter, as well.
"Nunes endured an orchestrated defamation campaign of stunning breadth and scope, one that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life,” it reads. “Unlike prior elections, where Nunes won by sweeping majorities, Nunes won on November 6, 2018 by a much narrower margin, receiving 52.7 percent of the 222,379 votes.”
Despite Nunes' apparent anger with Twitter, the Tulare native is a frequent user of the social media site. His recent tweets about California barring full-service restaurants from handing out plastic straws unless a diner requests one drew thousands of comments and retweets.
This article originally appeared on Visalia Times-Delta: Rep. Devin Nunes sues Twitter, spoof accounts for $250 million