Eriq Gardner, over at the Hollywood Reporter was the first of a few sites to post the story of how actor James Woods is ridiculously suing a trollish Twitter user for $10 million
, arguing that a single tweet from this guy, Abe List, who had all of 2,000ish followers, somehow hurt Woods' reputation. This is not just hard to believe, but it seems to be dipping into flat out SLAPP territory. The full filing
is worth reading, and suggests that maybe, just maybe, Woods needs a hobby (and slightly thicker skin). At issue is the Twitter user who goes by the name "Abe List." Whoever that is appears to be a slightly annoying/trollish Twitter user, who particularly delighted in annoying conservatives on Twitter. A few weeks ago, Woods made a bizarre and slightly nonsensical tweet involving Caitlyn Jenner and Planned Parenthood (don't ask), and Abe List shot back with:
"@RealJamesWoods @benshapiro cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting."
-- Abe List (@abelist) July 15, 2015
There are a few other historical tweets from Abe List mocking Woods, including one from December calling him a "clown-boy." Clown-boy is clearly not defamatory. The question here is if "cocaine addict" is defamatory. It is a statement of fact, and if it's not actually true, it could potentially be defamatory, but that's hardly the end of the story. As a very public person, Woods would have to show that whoever is behind "Abe List" published the claim "with actual malice." And "hey, I don't like James Woods and think he's a clown boy with stupid views" is hardly "actual malice." It would mean that Abe List either knew it was false and tweeted it anyway, or had "reckless disregard for the truth." That seems unlikely to hold up.
Furthermore, it's fairly clear that, given the context -- both Twitter and Abe List's usual tweets that the tweet that so concerns Woods is, at best, hyperbolic mocking on the internet, which wouldn't be defamation either.
And here's the real kicker in all of this: this was a random @reply tweet from a user with around 2000 followers (2,276 when I took a screenshot of his account, right before he took it down entirely). If you're not familiar with how @replies work, if you start a tweet with @username, the only people who will see it directly in their timelines are those who follow both users. That is, the only people who would have seen that tweet show up are people who happen to follow both @RealJamesWoods and @abelist. That venn diagram is likely to be tiny and well less than the 2,276 followers of @abelist. It's possible that if someone opened Woods' original tweet to see how others responded then some of them might have also seen the @abelist tweet -- but the likely number is tiny. And, of course, the only people who would have taken it seriously are idiots. It's pretty clearly just someone spouting off, as people are known to do on the internet.