Mar 18, 2019

Devin Nunes suing Twitter over anti-conservative "shadow bans"

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes filed a lawsuit against Twitter Monday, seeking $250 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages for "shadow-banning” some conservatives users including himself to influence last year’s midterm elections, Fox News reports.

Our thought bubble, per Axios' Sara Fischer: There’s been no substantial proof that the engineers at any of the big tech platforms have systemic bias against one political ideology over another when building algorithms. But Republicans in Congress have alleged that bias exists for some time, including in nationally-televised hearings.

  • It could be that by doing so, Republicans are able to create a narrative that the Big Tech establishment, which is largely viewed as progressive and idealistic, is rigged against them.

Details: The suit claims that Twitter is biased against conservatives while "knowingly hosting and monetizing content that is clearly abusive, hateful and defamatory —providing both a voice and financial incentive to the defamers — thereby facilitating defamation on its platform." It also seeks a ruling to require Twitter to release the identities behind numerous accounts Nunes said have harassed and defamed him.

  • Those accounts include anonymous users "Devin Nunes' Mom" and "Devin Nunes' Cow." The complaint states: "In her endless barrage of tweets, Devin Nunes’ Mom maliciously attacked every aspect of Nunes’ character, honesty, integrity, ethics and fitness to perform his duties as a United States Congressman."
  • Nunes' lawyers go on to write: "As part of its agenda to squelch Nunes’ voice, cause him extreme pain and suffering, influence the 2018 Congressional election, and distract, intimidate and interfere with Nunes’ investigation into corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election, Twitter did absolutely nothing."

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Sign of the times: A pro-Warren super PAC

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Nevada. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of women progressives who back Sen. Elizabeth Warren has formed Persist PAC, a super PAC airing pro-Warren ads starting Wednesday in an effort to boost her performance ahead of Saturday's crucial Nevada caucuses, a spokesman told Axios.

Why it matters: Warren has spoken adamantly against the influence of unlimited spending and dark money in politics. But these supporters have concluded that before Warren can reform the system, she must win under the rules that exist — and that whether she likes it or not, their uncoordinated help may be needed to keep her viable through this weekend's contest and into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon policy chief resigns amid reported discord with Trump

John Rood. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

John Rood, the Pentagon's top policy official, will resign from his post at the end of the month, CNN first reported and President Trump confirmed.

The state of play: CNN said Rood "was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted," such as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban and a decision to cut back on military exercises with South Korea as the president courted North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Coronavirus cases rise, as warnings of global pandemic grow

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

We may be "at the brink" of a global pandemic, warns a top U.S. public health official, as cases continue to spread despite containment efforts. Meanwhile, the global economy is being affected, including the tech manufacturing industry.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,000 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 136 new deaths since Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health