Facebook, Twitter and Google have let ISIS and other such groups thrive on social media, claim the family members of three victims of the San Bernardino shooting. They have sued all three three social networking sites for that reason.
Social platforms accused of offering “material support”
The 32-page complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles On Wednesday.
The complaint read: “Without defendants Twitter, Facebook and Google (YouTube), the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible.”
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Family members of Sierra Clayborn, Tin Nguyen and Nicholas Thalasinos say that for years, these companies have been aware of the fact that terrorist groups such as ISIS have been using social networking sites to spread extremist propaganda, raise funds and draw new recruits.
Relatives of the victims claim that ISIS has operated on the social platforms without any hurdles, and all the companies in question are accused of offering “material support” to the group, which helped them carry out the attack in San Bernardino, reports Reuters. The attack, which was carried out on December 2, 2015 at the Inland Regional Center, killed 14 people when the heavily armed gunmen started shooting at the center, which offers service to people with developmental disabilities. Gunman Syed Rizwan (28) and his wife Tashfeen Malik (27) died in a shootout with police within a few hours of the attack.
Citing unnamed sources, ABC News claims that Malik was active on social media at that time (with another name) and also took an oath to work by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, ahead of the shooting spree. Authorities stated that the couple was under the influence of Islamist militants, and the attack was seen as one of the most severe by Islamic extremists in the United States since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Can Facebook, Twitter and Google be held responsible for San Bernardino?
In a statement to ABC News, Facebook said it is sorry for the families’ loss and that any such terrorist content on its platforms is removed quickly.
“There is no place on Facebook for groups that engage in terrorist activity or for content that expresses support for such activity,” the company said.
Twitter – in response to the lawsuit – referred to its rules page, which says that it prohibits threats of violence or promotion of terrorism on the platform. Twitter also referred to its latest Transparency Report, in which it said that from July 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016, a total of 376,890 accounts were suspended for violations related to the promotion of terrorism, notes ABC News.
As of now, there have been no comments from Google.
Only time will tell if this latest lawsuit will be able to hold the social platforms accountable for indirectly helping the terrorists. In the past, however, several similar lawsuits have been dismissed thanks to a law that does not hold service providers responsible for content posted by users.