(Black Press Media files)

Twitter seeks to dismiss B.C. businessman’s lawsuit over ‘defamatory’ tweets

Founder of Lionsgate Entertainment alleges in a statement of claim that Twitter published a number of ‘false and defamatory’ tweets about him

Twitter Inc. is asking the British Columbia Supreme Court to dismiss or stay a defamation lawsuit filed by a local businessman and philanthropist because the court lacks jurisdiction.

The social media company has filed an application in response to a lawsuit by Frank Giustra, the founder of Lionsgate Entertainment and CEO of the Fiore Group of Companies.

He alleges in a statement of claim that Twitter published a number of “false and defamatory” tweets about him and has neglected or refused to remove many of the posts despite his repeated requests.

Giustra sits on the Clinton Foundation board, a non-profit organization founded by former U.S. president Bill Clinton, and says the tweets escalated during the 2016 United States election, accusing him of being involved in “pizzagate,” a debunked child sex trafficking conspiracy theory.

Twitter says in its application that the court should either dismiss or stay the action or decline jurisdiction in favour of the courts in California, where the company is headquartered.

It says if Giustra wants to pursue the action, he should do so in California where most witnesses and documents are located and where any judgment granted in his favour could be enforced.

READ MORE: B.C. man sues Twitter for alleged ‘defamatory’ tweets linked to U.S. election

Twitter says in its application filed in June that it provides a “platform for expression” and none of the tweets at issue in Giustra’s claim were written or posted by the company.

It says it believes users should be safe in expressing their views and that it has a community of online safety experts who develop and enforce rules and policies to prohibit abusive and threatening behaviour.

“Given the volume of users and tweets, Twitter cannot proactively screen all content posted on the platform and relies, in part, on user reports in order to identify content that violates its rules and policies,” it says.

Giustra’s statement of claim filed in April says he faced a targeted attack on Twitter by a group who set out to vilify him for political purposes starting around February 2015.

“Those publications included tweets stating that the plaintiff is ‘corrupt,’ a ‘murderous thief,’ a ‘criminal,’ and is involved in ‘pizzagate,’ ” it says, referring to the unfounded conspiracy theory that claimed Democrats harbour child sex slaves at a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C.

His lawsuit alleges Twitter also published threatening posts, including suggestions that Giustra be killed with two “bullets to the back of his head.”

He says the tweets have damaged his professional and personal reputation and caused “significant emotional distress and anxiety” for him and his family.

Giustra wants two mandatory permanent injunctions: one requiring Twitter to remove or prevent publication of the tweets, and another requiring Twitter to monitor for and prevent defamatory tweets in the future. He’s also seeking general damages and costs.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Giustra could not immediately be reached for comment.

The company says it took action in response to several letters and emails sent by Giustra from 2016 through 2019 requesting that it remove certain tweets.

Twitter explains that if a tweet violates a rule or policy, it requires users to remove it before they’re allowed to post again. The tweet is made publicly unavailable while the user removes it or appeals.

If the violation was “egregious” or the user continues the behaviour, the company may permanently suspend the account.

The application says Twitter won’t take action if the tweet doesn’t violate a rule or policy, and sometimes users delete offending tweets or deactivate their accounts before the company contacts them.

Twitter says it followed this process for the 98 tweets at issue in Giustra’s claim and as of late June, most have been removed and are unable to be viewed in Canada.

Of the 18 tweets that remain on the platform, eight are blocked in Canada but are accessible outside of the country, it says.

It says that Giustra has a “significant presence and reputation” in California, where he owns home in Beverly Hills.

By contrast, it says Twitter has no employees or assets in B.C. or Canada, apart from a subsidiary in Toronto, Twitter Canada ULC, which primarily focuses on marketing.

ALSO READ: Twitter taps Canada as test market for new ‘hide’ tweet feature

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

List of businesses and services now open in Ladysmith

The Chronicle is compiling on ongoing list of businesses in Ladysmith that are now open

Man claims Ladysmith Bylaw Officer accused him of ‘squatting’ at Transfer Beach

Remley believes the officer was profiling him because of his long hair and long beard

School district reveals restart plans for Nanaimo-Ladysmith

K-5 students will see two days of instruction a week, 6-12 students once a week

Ladysmith A&W plans community Rod Run for June 4

Cruisin’ the Dub will look a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Ladysmith centenarian honoured with birthday parade

Kay Rozzano said she’s been looking forward to this birthday ‘for 100 years’

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Most Read