Devin Nunes doesn’t think that his Twitter messages are getting read by enough people. So he’s suing Twitter for $250 million. And while he’s at it, he’s suing Devin Nunes’ Cow and Devin Nunes’ Mom for $350 million for being mean to him.
What Fox is promoting as a “major lawsuit” may be the most hilarious Devin Nunes moment since he jumped from a moving car, ran to meet two White House operatives at the White House, then began a circus of press conferences about the non-thing of “unmasking” that ended with Nunes blaring confidential info and earning himself a visit to the Ethics Committee. But that was when Nunes at least had blocking every single subpoena issued to collect evidence in the Russia investigations and creating a Russia report written only by Republicans to keep him occupied. Now, unburdened by the pressures of even faking an investigation, Nunes is free to let his conspiracy theories fly.
This time it’s “shadow banning.” Shadow banning is a theory among far-right Twitter users that the site is holding them back by filtering their tweets from the streams of readers. As a result, Trump-loving Twitterites are left to tweet into the void, thinking they are reaching their hoards of eager followers, only to discover their posts have actually been seen by only the latest generation of Russian chat-bots. Nunes is demanding not just a quarter-billion dollars, but the Twitter code so he can prove, prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would be the most popular kid in class if only They weren’t out to get him.
At the same time, Nunes is suing for $350 million in compensation for people posting mean tweets about him. He wants their money, and he wants Twitter to … unmask them. Or else. Possibly the best thing about this lawsuit is that Nunes is suing the parody accounts Devin Nunes’ Cow and Devin Nunes’ Mom, and his lawsuit is chockablock with examples of their jokes at his expense.
Except that’s really not the best part. The best part is that, just last year, Devin Nunes was the sponsor of the Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act.
“Shadow banning,” like Nunes’ “unmasking” claims, or his “incidental collection” claims, or his “no evidence of collusion” claims, is completely not real. Twitter has explained that at times it has failed to relay messages from all users, but a few users have convinced themselves this phenomenon isn’t a glitch, but an intentional suppression of their vital, impressive, and absolutely interesting speech. Proof? If that wasn’t the case, then why don’t more people read their stuff?
The evidence that Twitter’s flaws have hit both left and right are there for anyone who bothers to look—and often irritating to anyone who tries to use the service and would simply like to get What Was Written, When It Was Written rather than having Twitter’s algorithms keep pitching up the same “popular” tweets that have already been seen before. But Nunes has bought into a theory that Twitter isn’t just engaged in an irritating effort to please by showing users “good stuff.” He believes they are somehow flagging accounts on the right and placing a blue birdy thumb on the scale to hold them down. The fact that this would require a level of human intervention that Twitter has never begun to demonstrate doesn’t seem to bother the people who cling to this theory.
But the fact that Nunes picked out tweets such as Devin Nunes’ Cow calling him “udderly ridiculous” or Devin Nunes’ Mom threatening to take away his Minecraft privileges and put them in the lawsuit ... it’s just … extra tasty. And, in a perfect demonstration of how the system works, both those accounts are seeing huge increases in their popularity.
The Cow account, which had just over 1,000 followers before Nunes filed suit, had 28,000 by Monday night, and 53,000—and growing—on Tuesday morning.
Devin, the secret sauce of Twitter isn’t an algorithm. It’s the users. And they don’t like you. They really don’t like you.