West Vancouver billionaire Frank Giustra has been given the go-ahead to sue Twitter in a B. C. courtroom over the social media giant's publication of a series of tweets tying him to baseless conspiracy theories involving pedophile rings and Bill and Hillary Clinton.
In a ruling released Thursday, Justice Elliott Myers found that Giustra's history and presence in British Columbia, combined with the possibility the tweets may have been seen by as many as 500,000 B. C. Twitter users, meant a B.C. court should have jurisdiction over the case.
It's a victory not only for Giustra — whose philanthropic activities have earned him membership in both the Orders of Canada and B. C. — but for Canadian plaintiffs trying to hold U.S.-based internet platforms responsible for border-crossing content.
'I believe that words do matter'
In a statement, Giustra said he was looking forward to pursuing the case in the province where he built his reputation as the founder of Lionsgate Entertainment.
"I hope this lawsuit will help raise public awareness of the real harm to society if social media platforms are not held responsible for the content posted and published on their sites," Giustra said.
"I believe that words do matter, and recent events have demonstrated that hate speech can incite violence with deadly consequences."
In this June 21, 2007 file photo, Frank Giustra speaks as Bill Clinton looks on during a news conference in New York to announce the Clinton Foundation's launching of a new sustainable development initiative in Latin America. (Frank Franklin II/The Associated Press)
Giustra filed the defamation lawsuit in April 2019, seeking an order to force Twitter to remove tweets he claimed painted him as "corrupt" and "criminal."
He claimed he was targeted by a group who vilified him "for political purposes" in relation to the 2016 U. S. election and his work in support of the Clinton Foundation.
The online attacks allegedly included death threats and links to "pizzagate" — a "false, discredited and malicious conspiracy theory in which [Giustra] was labelled as a 'pedophile,'" the claim stated.
Twitter has not filed a response to Giustra's claim itself — applying instead to have the case tossed because of jurisdiction.
The California-based company said it does not do business in B. C. and that Giustra was only relying on his B.C. roots to file the case in Canada because it would be a non-starter in the U.S., where the First Amendment protects free speech.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addresses students during a town hall at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, India, Nov. 12, 2018. That same year, Giustra wrote to Dorsey asking him to investigate the 'past and ongoing attacks' against him.... (Read more)
Submitted 46 days ago