The owner of a Delaware computer repair shop is pressing to move forward with a defamation lawsuit against Twitter over its handling of a factually disputed New York Post story regarding President Joe Biden's son.
Last October, Twitter initially restricted users' ability to share the Post article, citing a policy against distribution of “hacked” materials. The Post's story was based on an email supposedly recovered from a hard drive that had been abandoned by Hunter Biden at John Paul Mac Isaac's computer repair shop, and then provided to an attorney for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Late last year, Isaac sued Twitter for defamation, arguing that he was harmed by the site's labeling of the story as based on hacked materials.
He alleged in a complaint filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida that he “is not a hacker” and that he “lawfully gained access to the computer” when its owner brought it in for repair, and then failed to reclaim it.
He also said he began to receive bad Yelp reviews the same day Twitter restricted the Post's story. An October 14 Yelp review attached as an exhibit to his lawsuit says, “They like to hack their customers computers and inject themselves erroneously into politics.”
He added that he closed his business as a result of Twitter's label.
U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom dismissed that case the same day it was filed on the grounds that the dispute wasn't connected to activity in Florida.
On February 18, Isaac re-filed the lawsuit, but with additional allegations that Twitter operates an office in Miami.
Several days later, U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro spontaneously asked Isaac to show why the lawsuit shouldn't be dismissed under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
That law protects web companies from liability for users' speech, but not for the companies' own speech.
Last week, Isaac responded with several arguments, including that Twitter itself wrongly labeled him a “hacker” -- and therefore wasn't protected by Section 230.
“Twitter notified the world wrongly that the information provided in the NY Post story constituted hacked materials and therefore, that the plaintiff, by virtue of being the provider of that information, is a hacker,” Isaac argues.
Twitter is expected to respond to Isaac's argument by Thursday.