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Twitter wants suit dismissed

Twitter is asking the B.C. 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.

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.

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.



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