Data scientist Geoff Golberg has sued Twitter for banning his account after he used insulting language toward a bot. 

Golberg, the co-founder of blockchain analytics company Elementus and an academic at the University of Colorado, was banned from Twitter on July 29, 2019, for engaging in “abusive behavior.” 

In the lawsuit, Golberg emphasizes that the very existence of the inauthentic account violated Twitter’s terms of service. He states he was banned for using the words “idiot” and “moron” specifically.

The case was prepared by crypto legal veterans Stephen Palley and Preston Byrne of Anderson Kill. The plaintiff is seeking damages of between $25,000 and $50,000 and the reactivation of his account — which commanded a following of more than 12,000.

Claims of a contractual relationship with Twitter

According to the suit, Golberg is suing Twitter for a breach of their contractual agreement.

The researcher asserts that Twitter accounts are not free, arguing: “User data is the currency that all users provide to Twitter for access, and it becomes a valuable asset that Twitter then sells to platform advertisers.”

Golberg also spent $38,000 to promote various posts on the social media platform over a decade, characterizing his affiliation with Twitter as a business relationship.

While the claim acknowledges that Twitter “enjoys broad discretion to grant, deny, modify, or revoke permission to moderate content on or use its platform at any time,” Golber argues that said discretion cannot be exercised arbitrarily:

“That discretion is not unlimited, and under New York law cannot be exercised arbitrarily and in bad faith any more than a ticket seller could sell a baseball fan a ticket to a baseball game, keep the fan’s money, and then deny the fan entry to the ball park simply because the fan happens to root for the visiting team.”

Golberg exposes bot networks on Twitter

Golberg has spent many years analyzing and exposing inauthentic and bot accounts on Twitter. Through his research, he has exposed networks of fake accounts promoting the XRP token, accounts associated with an Iranian political organization, and the Billboard Music Awards, among others.

In the lawsuit, Golberg states he was “frequently mass reported by nefarious actors seeking to silence his voice,” and received several death threats sent over the platform. 

A malicious actor has also leaked confidential information relating to his identity on Twitter — known as “doxxing.” Golberg asserts the account that doxed him remains active on Twitter to this day.