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Rep. Devin Nunes can't sue Twitter over satirical cow account, judge rules

The California Republican congressman sued Twitter last year, alleging the service censors conservative voices.

Rep. Devin Nunes included Twitter in a defamation lawsuit in 2019.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Devin Nunes can't sue Twitter over tweets made by two parody accounts and a Republican strategist he accuses of defaming him, a Virginia judge has ruled. The satirical accounts he targeted as part of the lawsuit included a fake cow and one that parodies the California Republican's mother.

Judge John Marshall, of Virginia Circuit Court, 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," adding "the court refuses to do so," according to the Fresno Bee.

In his 2019 lawsuit, Nunes alleged Twitter censors conservative voices through "shadow-banning" and makes money from "abusive, harmful and defamatory" content. In addition to Twitter, the lawsuit named political consultant Liz Mair and Twitter users @DevinNunesMom and @DevinCow as defendants.

Nunes' lawsuit alleged that Twitter users posted defamatory statements about him during the 2018 congressional election and that Twitter didn't do enough to curb this behavior.

Twitter said the decision to dismiss the Nunes' lawsuit was sound.

"Twitter enforces the Twitter Rules impartially for everyone who uses our service around the world, regardless of their background or political affiliation," a Twitter spokesman said. "We are constantly improving our efforts to serve the public conversation and will continue to be transparent with the public." 

The @DevinCow account, which pretended to be the lawmaker's cow, was apparently created to mock Nunes' upbringing on his family's dairy farm, something he's made central to political identity since he's been in politics. The account tweets a lot of cow jokes and puns to encourage the "moovement."

The account had fewer than 2,000 followers when the lawsuit was filed but ballooned to more than 500,000 followers in just a few days.

Nunes didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.