The Independent's journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

Devin Nunes: Republican congressman sues Twitter for $250m over parody account of his mother

He is also suing an online cow for defamation

Anthony Cuthbertson
Tuesday 19 March 2019 14:08 GMT
A billboard showing Republican Devin Nunes with social media hashtags related to the investigation into Russian election meddling
A billboard showing Republican Devin Nunes with social media hashtags related to the investigation into Russian election meddling

Devin Nunes has sued Twitter and several of its users, among them a parody account of his mother and a cow.

The Republican congressman is seeking $250m (£188m) in damages for “abusive, hateful and defamatory” content allegedly hosted on Twitter, which the suit claims was intended to interfere with the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential election.

The complaint, filed in a Virginia state court on Monday, refers specifically to the accounts “Devin Nunes’ Mom” (@DevinNunesMom) and “Devin Nunes’ cow” (@DevinCow), as well as Republican communications consultant and critic of Mr Nunes, Liz Mair.

The content referred to in the complaint includes a human centipede-style diagram of waste passing from Russian president Vladimir Putin to US president Donald Trump, before passing to Mr Nunes.

The caption of the diagram, posted by the “Devin Nunes’ Mom” account, stated: “Here’s a helpful diagram to explain their relationship.”

The lawsuit accuses the @DevinNunesCow account of making defamatory remarks about the Republican to its 1,204 Twitter followers. At the time of writing, the account is still active and now has more than 66,000 followers.

Some Twitter users have attributed this rapid follower growth to a phenomenon known as the Streisand effect, whereby an attempt to remove or censor a piece of information instead serves to publicise it more widely.

According to the lawsuit, the @DevinNunesMom account was suspended following a complaint by Mr Nunes’ real mother.

A legal representative for Mr Nunes could not be reached for comment but in an appearance on Fox News on Monday Night, the Congressman said: “This is the first of many lawsuits that are coming... Our First Amendment rights are at stake here.”

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

It is not the first time a US politician has accused Twitter of targeting them because of their political views, with Mr Trump consistently accusing the social media platform of bias against conservatives.

“Social media is totally discriminating against Republican/ Conservative voices,” he tweeted in August 2018. “They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others.”

Social media companies are protected from defamation liability, however the complaint alleges Twitter wilfully facilitated defamation on its platform “by completely ignoring lawful complaints about offensive content and by allowing that content to remain accessible to the public”.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in