Twitter is being sued by the family members of three Americans who were killed in ISIS attacks in France and Belgium. The micro-blogging site is being sued for allegedly failing to keep members of ISIS off its platform, according to Business Insider.
Is Twitter a tool and a weapon of terrorism?
The lawsuit was filed on January 8 in the southern district of New York. According to the lawsuit, the micro-blogging giant has played an important role in the development of ISIS’ image. The lawsuit alleges that the social media platform also played a role in the success of ISIS in recruiting members from around the world and its ability to intimidate its enemies and carry out attacks.
The lawsuit says, “Simply put, ISIS uses Twitter as a tool and a weapon of terrorism.”
The lawyers representing the plaintiffs argue that Twitter violated the Anti-Terrorism Act, and the families are asking for “compensatory damages in amounts to be determined at trial.”
In August 2016, a California judge dismissed a similar lawsuit that accused the micro-blogging giant of offering support to ISIS. Currently, the social network is facing a similar lawsuit by the family members of the victims who were killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida in the June 2016 attack, notes BI.
Twitter has long been criticized for its inability to keep terrorists off its platform. In 2014, an article in The Atlantic titled “How ISIS Games Twitter,” described how extremists of all kinds are increasingly using social media to radicalize, recruit, and raise funds.
In the summer of 2015, the micro-blogging site started cracking down on accounts related to ISIS, suspending about 125,000 accounts in just one swoop. In August 2016, the social network said that since mid-2015, it had suspended about 350,000 accounts related to ISIS.
The obscure nature of Twitter’s suspensions
Twitter also continues to struggle with the problem of abuse on its platform. Twitter suspended Martin Shkreli,known as the “Pharma bro,” over the weekend following his interactions with Teen Vogue journalist Lauren Duca. The social network also suspended Alexandra Brodsky, though briefly, after she tweeted screenshots of antisemitic abuse she received. Brodsky is a fellow at the National Women’s Law Center.
What’s interesting is the accounts of her abusers were not suspended. These two very different cases underline the lack of transparency in the way harassment is handled by the company, says The Guardian. The social media platform appears to tackle abuse in a reactive instead of a strategic way. But how the social media company applies these rules is not clear.