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The Tweeting Cow and the “Streisand Effect”

From Matt Cavanaugh at McDonald Hopkins:

Earlier this week, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) sued Twitter, Liz Mair (a republican strategist), and two obvious parody Twitter accounts: “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow.” A copy of the complaint is available here. Nunes claims that tweets by Mair and the parody accounts were defamatory and “fighting words” and that Twitter was negligent for not removing the posts and not blocking the Twitter users. Nunes seeks, wait for it…$250 million. Plenty has been, and will be, written about how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act absolutely immunizes Twitter against such claims (47 USC 230), whether the claims have merit (most agree they are meritless), and how many cow and “udder” puns can be squeezed into a headline.

For businesses and individuals contemplating a libel lawsuit, or any lawsuit for that matter, Nunes’ lawsuit is a reminder of the Streisand Effect. According to NPR, and as quoted in Wikipedia (yes, the Streisand Effect has its own page), Mike Masnick of Techdirt coined the term in reference to Barbara Streisand’s invasion of privacy lawsuit against a photographer who had photographed her Malibu home and posted the photo online.

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