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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.