WeSearchr, a crowdfunding-style website managed by a controversial "alt-right" commentator is seeking at least $250,000 in donations to launch legal action against Twitter over alleged discrimination, censorship and antitrust violations.
"Twitter hates us, folks. And they're $#@!ing us. It's time to $#@! them back," a pledge on the website states, adding: "We're going to sue Twitter for its discrimination against conservatives, its censorship, its violation of antitrust regulation, and for everything else."
It continues: "Twitter wants to have a lot of power. It claims to use it responsibly. It's not. Let's fix that - on Twitter's behalf, and on the behalf of the American people and everybody else in the world who wants to use Twitter like an unbiased public utility."
The petition, which was started by the website's founders, Chuck Johnson and Pax Dickinson, claims the popular social media platform discriminates against outspoken or conservative-leaning commentors such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Martin Shkreli.
It claims – without evidence – that Twitter regularly "shadowbans" and "blacklists" those whose views are outside of the mainstream and maintains it has "even refused to rule out banning the account of President Trump himself." It has a simple motto: To make Twitter "the next Gawker."
WeSearchr, largely unknown outside of the US, has users called 'askers' which can post so-called "bounties" to uncover answers about political happenings and conspiracy theories. It asks for donations as an incentive for researchers to solve these mysteries.
The campaigns are often in the realm of what is now known as the "alt-right" which – as defined by the Associated Press (AP) – is a title "embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology."
Campaigns on the website include blatant conspiracy ('who murdered 27-year-old DNC staffer Seth Rich?'), the outlandish (Find a 'criminal act or adultery committed by Bernie Sanders'), and the shocking ('Get the Fake Trump Victims to Admit They Lied').
Indeed, the founder of the website, Chuck Johnson, has been described as a "California based blogger and well-known political troll" by Politico. He himself has been permanently banned from Twitter over remarks about wanting to "take out" a Black Lives Matter activist.
Its proposed litigation against Twitter, at least on the surface, appears to be more popular than some of the other crowdfunding "bounties". At the time of writing it has raised over $3,000 from 79 donors, however it's still a little short of its $250,000 minimum ask.
"This is not an ordinary WeSearchr bounty," a statement on the website claims. "We have many grounds on which to sue Twitter, including for discrimination and censorship against conservatives and antitrust violations, and we will pursue each case that we have.
"We are already discussing this bounty with WeSearchr's excellent attorneys, as well as extremely competent and highly experienced attorneys who simply have a pro bono interest in suing Twitter. We are already developing a legal strategy."
Ken White, an attorney at Brown White & Osborn LLP told Motherboard this is unlikely to happen. "It may be a mistake to evaluate WeSearchr's actions as serious legal propositions as opposed to trolling, theatre, and Trump-era ally-pleasing bluster," he 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," White added.
Until the legal action is filed, the remains unknown if the website's proposal is serious, or simply another case of trolling. In the meantime, Twitter appears to have had its revenge. On 23 January, it suspended the WeSearchr account after it posted information about its latest bounty: a pledge to uncover the identity of the man who punched white supremacist Richard Spencer in the face.