Canadian billionaire settles defamation suit against Twitter

Frank Giustra attends CORE Gala: A Gala Dinner to Benefit CORE and 10 Years of Life-Saving Work Across Haiti & Around the World at Wiltern Theatre on January 15, 2020
Frank Giustra

Canadian billionaire Frank Giustra has settled a long-running lawsuit against Twitter over tweets linking him to the pizzagate conspiracy theory.

Mr Giustra, who founded Lionsgate Entertainment, first sued Twitter in 2019, over what he called “corrupt” and “criminal” tweets about him.

They included links to pizzagate, a conspiracy claiming a DC pizzeria was the base of a child sex ring.

The settlement terms were not disclosed.

Lionsgate is one of the world’s largest entertainment companies, and is behind films like American Psycho, La La Land and Knives Out.

In a statement, Mr Giustra’s lawyers said he had “started this action because he wanted to hold Twitter accountable in circumstances where it knew about defamatory, hateful and threatening tweets made on its platform by anonymous users but refused to remove them”.

The social media giant had fought to have the lawsuit thrown out over jurisdiction, accusing Mr Giustra of filing the claim in his home of British Columbia as opposed to the United States, where free speech protections are more broad and where platforms are protected from prosecution for what is published by others.

But judges in the British Columbia Supreme Court and Court of Appeal dismissed this argument, allowing Mr Giustra to go ahead with his claim.

In court, Mr Giustra claimed he had been targeted in these posts for “political purposes”. According to the bizarre pizzagate theory popularised during the 2016 US presidential election, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – then the Democratic presidential candidate and her inner circle – were running a secret sex ring out of the DC pizza restaurant.

Mr Giustra contented that he had been linked to the conspiracy in relation to his support for the Clintons’ charitable foundation. He is still active on Twitter.

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