WeSearchr, a crowdfunding platform for the so-called "alt-right," is threatening to sue Twitter for discrimination against conservatives and violations of antitrust regulation.
"Twitter hates us, folks. And they're $#@!ing us. It's time to $#@! them back," WeSearchr states on the funding page. "We're going to sue Twitter for its discrimination against conservatives, its censorship, its violation of antitrust regulation, and for everything else that we can. We're going to make Twitter the next Gawker."
WeSearchr is a crowdfunding platform, only instead of funding products, users can fund investigations into questions they want answered. It was founded by Charles C. Johnson, who has a history of incorrectly doxxing innocent people including a woman he thought was "Jackie" in the UVA rape case and journalists covering the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. in 2015. He was permanently banned from Twitter in 2015 for suggesting his followers "take out" civil rights activist Deray McKesson.
Suggested WeSearchr investigations into the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, and a woman who a user claims set a Trump supporter's hair on fire make it clear the site has a far-right bent. Once an investigation is "solved," the money raised is split between the person who originally asked for the investigation, people who helped provide information, and WeSearchr. For the Twitter lawsuit, contributions will be treated as shares: The more users donate, the more they can get back if WeSearchr wins.
"Twitter has a censorship problem and they routinely discriminate against white males and Trump supporters," Johnson told Motherboard in an email. "That behavior is illegal. It's tantamount to denying a lunch counter to a black man. Their application of their terms of service is vague."
Ken White, attorney at Brown White & Osborn LLP and blogger on First Amendment issues, disagrees.
"WeSearchr's claims of censorship and discrimination are frivolous," he told me in an email. "Twitter may be 'censoring' in a colloquial way, but it's a private platform and not governed by the First Amendment. It's free to kick people off for speech it doesn't like unless doing so runs afoul of a particular federal or state statute, and WeSearchr hasn't cited a plausible relevant one."
As for antitrust accusations, White said those are misplaced as well.
"Antitrust law is very complicated and it's pointless to speculate about what WeSearchr thinks it means by citing it," he said. "But antitrust law doesn't say 'it's illegal to be a big company that dominates a field.' Generally it restricts anti-competitive practices, and WeSearchr has never credibly identified any."
However, there's still a lot of activity around the #SueTwitter hashtag, and WeSearchr is also soliciting funds on one of the alt-right's new favorite social networks, Gab:
At the time of publication WeSearchr has raised over $3,000 for the lawsuit. It hopes to hit a goal of $250,000 in the next 1,094 days. WeSearchr claims to be independently pursuing funding for the lawsuit from "wealthy patrons."
"The Twitter Rules prohibit targeted abuse and harassment, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies," a Twitter spokesperson told Motherboard in an email. I followed up with Twitter to ask if it hates white males and if it's trying to "$#@!" them, but have yet to hear back.
"It may be a mistake to evaluate WeSearchr's actions as serious legal propositions as opposed to trolling, theater, and Trump-era ally-pleasing bluster," White said. "Anyone can sue anyone for anything, but I see no indication that WeSearchr's lawsuit—if they filed one, rather than merely scamming obliging suckers—would be anything other than frivolous and potentially sanctionable."