In March, Aaron Rich filed a defamation lawsuit against several far-right conspiracy theorists for alleging that he played a part in the murder of his brother and DNC staffer, Seth Rich.
“Aaron Rich’s initial complaint accused defendants of acting “with reckless disregard for the truth,” particularly in their allegations that Aaron Rich was involved in the “WikiLeaks leak and the cover-up of his own brother’s murder. He said that the defendants claims of having “proof” that he helped his brother steal data from the DNC, sold the stolen data to WikiLeaks and then covered up his brother’s murder were motivated by “personal notoriety, financial gain, and naked partisan aims,” and that they willfully “trampled” on his reputation and “emotional wellbeing” in the process,” Dan Abrams of the blog Law & Crime explained.
On Friday, the defamation case escalated. Twitter received a subpoena from Aaron Rich’s lawyers calling on the company to turn over all, “communications, directs messages and documents about topics mentioned, sent by, or to “secondary accounts” from Jan. 1, 2015 to present.” The targets of this subpoena included Roger Stone, Cassandra Fairbanks, The Gateway Pundit, Julian Assange and Wikileaks.
The subpoena does however exclude key Twitter influencers involved in propagating the Seth Rich conspiracy. A study run on June 10th, 2018 shows that Paul Joseph Watson and Mike Cernovich, amongst others, spread the conspiracy farther than anyone on Twitter.
Here are the 20 accounts with the most retweets in our #SethRich/"Seth Rich" dataset for the whole time range from the murder to the 2016 election. The presence of banned Internet Research Agency accounts TEN_GOP and usa_gunslinger is intriguing. pic.twitter.com/4Pk30JxJQ4
— Conspirador Norteño (@conspirator0) June 10, 2018
Given the wording of the subpoena, some of these accounts may be considered “secondary accounts.” This means one of the primary accounts has interacted with them whether it’s through DMs, Retweets, Mentions or otherwise.
Twitter members, wishing to stay anonymous for their own protection, with deep knowledge on the spread of online conspiracies were especially surprised at some of the excluded accounts. “I remember when the election was going on and even after that, Infowars and Cernovich were spreading the Seth Rich theory everywhere. Paul Joseph Watson specifically was obsessed with it. Multiple tweets every day on the subject. These tweets were then amplified by Cernovich and others. So yeah, it is surprising that they aren’t listed as primary accounts in the subpoena.”
Cernovich is notorious for using Periscope, a Twitter owned company, to spread misinformation about Seth Rich. He constantly claimed the media played a role in Seth Rich’s murder. “Whenever you see an article from a journalist on Twitter about Seth Rich make sure you ask them, where were you during the murder? I know when the murder happened. It was 4:19AM. Panda (Seth Rich) was murdered at 4:19AM. And where were they? Washpost, NY Times, where were they?”
Twitter’s subpoena is an open, on-going Bernard Media investigation. More information will be provided as it is made available.