Judge Finds That Twitter Isn’t Legally Liable for Devin Nunes’s Tormentor Cow

Image: Drew Angerer, Getty Images
Image: Drew Angerer, Getty Images

Twitter does not have to stop a merry cow from dunking on California Republican Congressperson and Trump bootlicker Devin Nunes, a court has ruled. She will mock him until her last breath. Which will not be today. To greet the arrival of the good news, the cow squirted celebratory milk all over Nunes’s face.

In 2019, Nunes filed a complaint against Twitter, @DevinCow, and @DevinNunesMom (created by Republican strategist Liz Mair), seeking damages of $US250 ($364) million, alleging that the platform has been “amplifying” his “defamers,” revealing Twitter’s “political agenda” to “undermine confidence” in Devin Nunes and benefit Republican nemeses. Nunes cited tweets referring to the question of whether he had obstructed justice in the Russia investigation, as well as some other insinuations that aren’t worth reprinting. (Gizmodo has no interest in seeing America’s dumbest congressman in court.) Suffice it to say the posts are laced with expletives, and a diagram of a human centipede is involved. To get a sense of why people don’t like Devin Nunes, here’s a week in the life of Devin Nunes, before he stepped down as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee amidst an ethics probe into his conduct. (According to Nunes, a “politically motivated” attack.)

The Washington Post reports that Virginia judge John Marshall wrote to Nunes’s attorneys Friday that, essentially, Nunes misunderstands Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which clearly shields platforms from liability over user-generated speech posted on their websites. Marshall wrote that Nunes “seeks to have the court treat Twitter as the publisher or speaker of the content provided by others based on its allowing or not allowing certain content to be on its Internet platform. The court refuses to do so.”

Republicans consistently misread the foundational policy, believing it to imply that websites have to be politically neutral in order to be shielded from liability. (They do not.) Nunes appears to take a stab at that argument again in the complaint, accusing Twitter of liberal bias by “shadow-banning conservatives.” Trump distorted the reading even further with his recent executive order, saying that restricting content to “stifle viewpoints with which they disagree” (i.e., anti-conservative bias!) would put them in publisher territory beyond immunity under Section 230 protections.

The decision still doesn’t shield Devin’s Cow or Devin’s Mum from Nunes’s legal crusade, and Nunes filed a separate lawsuit against Liz Mair last year for alleged “character assassination.” Over the past year, Nunes filed suits against a number of media outlets, including Esquire, the Washington Post, CNN, and The Fresno Bee.

At the time of this writing, @DevinNunesMom has been deactivated. In the complaint, Nunes noted that @DevinCow had 1,204 followers. Today, she has over 736,000, largely thanks to Devin Nunes.