It’s kind of incredible that Devin Nunes’ first frivolous, censorial lawsuit is still going on — but it is. This is the one against two satirical Twitter accounts that made fun of Nunes, as well as political strategist Liz Mair and Twitter the company itself. Twitter had tried to get the case dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, saying the case belonged in California, but that failed. Now Twitter has played the next obvious card: saying that Section 230 of the CDA prevents Nunes from suing it over the satirical accounts. Tragically, the Fresno Bee has not posted the actual legal filings, and they’re in a state court that does not make them easily accessible to the public, so I don’t have the full filing yet. However, from the Fresno Bee’s account, it appears that Twitter is making a pretty typical CDA 230 argument:
“Congress granted providers of online platforms like Twitter broad immunity from claims that seek to hold them liable for harms caused by defamatory or otherwise harmful content that appeared on the provider’s platform but were created by third parties,” the motion to dismiss reads. “(The law) protects such providers not only from liability but also from being subjected to the burdens of discovery or other aspects of litigation.”
The federal law referenced specifically states that no providers of an “interactive computer service” should be treated as “the publisher or speaker” of things said by a third party on their platform.
The filing highlights that the negligence claim against Twitter is really just an attempt to route around 230:
“The sole claim (Nunes) asserts against Twitter — for negligence — rests entirely on the theory that Twitter did not prevent third parties from posting the statements on the Twitter platform and/or did not do enough to remove the statements after they were posted,” Twitter’s new motion reads.
If the judge in the case actually understands Section 230, this should be an easy dismissal for Twitter. However, to date, the judge has made a series of perplexing decisions that seem to go against most understanding on other laws. That doesn’t mean he won’t eventually dismiss the case, but it might make folks worry that this judge is more inclined than he should be to let the case move forward for the time being.
Of course, assuming the judge actually does dismiss the claims against Twitter on 230 grounds, I fully expect, Rep. Devin Nunes to join the chorus of clueless elected officials seeking to end Section 230.
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