Part 230 Protects Twitter from the “Devin Nunes’ Cow” Lawsuit-Nunes v. Twitter

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Want to Learn More About Section 230? A Guide to My Work

In this case, Rep. Devin Nunes sued Liz Mair (@LizMair) and the accounts @devincow ("Devin Nunes & # 39; Kuh") and @DevinNunesMom for various tweets. This lawsuit is doubtful. Even less wisely sued Nunes Twitter for these third-party tweets. The judge gave Nunes a first-hand tutorial in section 230 and dismissed Twitter. The case was not closed.

The court rejects Nunes' main arguments:

  • Courts can grant the defense an application for dismissal pursuant to Section 230, as this constitutes immunity from the action. This problem has annoyed the courts from time to time (remember the tortured Barnes judgment against Yahoo?). At this point, most courts will approve section 230 if the defense is recognizable on the face of the complaint. (For example, when a plaintiff tries to hold Twitter responsible for third-party tweets).
  • Nunes tried the general “conservative” argument that Twitter had lost its Section 230 eligibility because it made editorial decisions about third-party content (the argument “it's no longer a platform, it has become a publisher” that you routinely in @BadLegalTakes and find @ BadSec230Takes). The court simply replied: "The plaintiff would like the court to treat Twitter as the publisher or spokesman for the content provided by others based on certain content being approved or denied on its internet platform. The court rejects this ”(citing Zeran). IN SECTION 230 JURISDICTION, THERE IS NO DISTRIBUTOR / PLATFORM DIFFERENCE THAT HAS NEVER BEEN GIVEN. Anyone who suggests otherwise deserves to be posterized on @BadLegalTakes and @ BadSec230Takes.
  • Nunes tried another popular “conservative” topic where Twitter showed a biased attitude towards him, and that means Twitter should lose Section 230 protection. The court says the court found Nemet Chevrolet against ConsumerAffairs Section 230, even if the plaintiff alleged bias.

The statement concludes with a strange statement: "The court also found that 47 USC Section 230 (c) (2) provides immunity for any civil liability, and Twitter is therefore immune to the plaintiff's action for negligence." This sentence makes more sense if the court meant § 230 (c) (1) and not § 230 (c) (2). Zeran and Barnes both denied negligence claims for (c) (1) reasons. If the court meant what it said, this sentence would likely exacerbate the confusing obsession of the "conservatives" with section 230 (c) (2).

In an unusually clever legal move, California congressman Nunes sued California-based Twitter in Virginia, not California. This means that he avoided the powerful California anti-SLAPP law, which would have forced him to write a defense cost check to Twitter. (Virginia has some improved defamation protections, but still needs a solid anti-SLAPP law). This case is another great example of why we need a federal anti-SLAPP law to prevent plaintiffs like Nunes from shopping in jurisdictions without strict anti-SLAPP laws. Nunes would take a lot to restore the reputation he has gained through such sham lawsuits, but sponsoring a strong federal anti-SLAPP law would be a positive step. It is more likely that Nunes violates the first rule of holes and appeals against this judgment.

Personally, I am always fascinated when elected politicians lose hard as plaintiffs. I think it is a higher standard than other plaintiffs because we ask our politicians to draft our laws. If they show so clearly that they do not understand the law at all, they state that their voters should never have given them oversight of our law. I wonder if this will be a relevant factor for Nunes voters in the November elections.

Case quote: Nunes vs. Twitter, Inc., 2020 Va. Cir. LEXIS 89 (Va. Cir. Ct. June 24, 2020)

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