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US lawmaker Devin Nunes sues Twitter, alleging anti-conservative bias

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Washington, USA Mar 19, 2019, 07.59 PM (IST)

A Republican congressman is suing Twitter claiming the online platform discriminates against conservatives by hiding their messages, and for allowing "abusive, hateful and defamatory" content about the lawmaker.

The complaint was filed by Representative Devin Nunes, an ally of President Donald Trump, in a Virginia state court, and released online by Fox News. It seeks $250 million in damages.

Nunes alleges that Twitter "shadow bans" conservatives -- purportedly making their messages less visible -- and failed to crack down on parody accounts such as "Devin Nunes' Mom" and "Devin Nunes' cow" which accused him of obstructing investigations into the president.

The suit echoes accusations from Trump that major internet platforms discriminate against conservatives, even though he himself has more than 59 million followers on Twitter.

Twitter declined to comment on the lawsuit, but has in the past vigorously denied claims that its platform is politically biased.

Legal analysts have largely maintained that internet platforms such as Twitter are not liable for most content posted by third parties, but the Nunes lawsuit claims Twitter was negligent and failed to enforce its own terms of service.

"Twitter let it happen because Twitter had (and has) a political agenda and motive," the lawsuit said.

The complaint included many of the insulting tweets, including one from the Devin Nunes' Mom account stating: "Are you trying to obstruct a federal investigation again? You come home right this instant or no more Minecraft!"

Other tweets accused the lawmaker of having "white supremacist friends" and distributing "disturbing inflammatory racial propaganda."

Nunes, who represents a district in California, is a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and was accused of undermining the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump himself weighed in on the issue again on Tuesday, retweeting a message about the lawsuit and repeating his claims about bias by internet firms.

"Facebook, Google and Twitter, not to mention the Corrupt Media, are sooo on the side of the Radical Left Democrats. But fear not, we will win anyway, just like we did before!" Trump tweeted.

Story highlights

The complaint was filed by Representative Devin Nunes, an ally of President Donald Trump, in a Virginia state court, and released online by Fox News. It seeks $250 million in damages.