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Shiva Ayyadurai v. Galvin, et al. (Amicus Brief)

On October 20, 2020, the plaintiff filed a complaint arguing that the reporting of his tweets, which included misleading and incorrect allegations regarding an election’s integrity, were in violation of his First Amendment rights. The Brennan Center filed an amicus brief arguing that election officials must be able to report misinformation to media platforms.

Published: May 20, 2021

On Septem­ber 1, 2020, the plaintiff learned that he had lost the 2020 Massachu­setts Repub­lican primary senate race. Shortly after, the plaintiff and his volun­teers issued Free­dom of Inform­a­tion Act requests to the Massachu­setts Secret­ary of State’s office and over a dozen juris­dic­tions respect­ively, seek­ing ballot images, log files, voters lists, and other elec­tion records. On Septem­ber 25, 2020, the plaintiff tweeted the false claim that Massachu­setts had “destroy[ed] over 1 million ballots,” citing commu­nic­a­tions with a Massachu­setts elec­tions attor­ney.

The defend­ants noti­fied Twit­ter through the Part­ner Support Portal that the plaintiff was spread­ing elec­tion misin­form­a­tion. The plat­form subsequently removed the plaintiff’s tweets and suspen­ded his account on Septem­ber 26, 2020. The plaintiff filed a complaint on Octo­ber 20, 2020, arguing that the report­ing of his tweets, subsequent take­down, and the suspen­sion of his accounts were in viol­a­tion of his First Amend­ment rights.

The Bren­nan Center submit­ted an amicus brief in support of the defend­ants. Due to the epidemic of mis and disin­form­a­tion, the asso­ci­ated crim­inal threats against elec­tion work­ers, and intim­id­a­tion and harass­ment that may viol­ate federal voting laws, we contend that elec­tion offi­cials must be able to report misin­form­a­tion to media plat­forms, and those plat­forms must be able to give special prior­ity to elec­tion offi­cials’ reports, for the offi­cials’ own safety and the integ­rity of our demo­cracy.

On August 10, 2021, the case was volun­tar­ily dismissed and all parties agreed that there was no remain­ing contro­versy between them.