As terror groups use social media platforms to spread messages of hate and incitement to terrorism, US courts are proving that current laws are behind the times and are not capable of fighting online incitement.
A US judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit accusing Twitter of supporting the Islamic State (ISIS) group because it allows the terror group to publish its content on the social media platform.
The suit was filed at a San Francisco federal court by the families of two men killed in Jordan during an ISIS attack in 2015. They claimed that Twitter had contributed to the deaths by allowing ISIS to use Twitter accounts.
The judge sided with Twitter’s defense that the company cannot be held liable because federal law protects service providers that just offer platforms for speech, without creating the dialogue itself.
“As horrific as these deaths were…Twitter cannot be treated as a publisher or speaker of ISIS’s hateful rhetoric and is not liable under the facts alleged,” District Judge William Orrick wrote in his ruling.
The federal Communications Decency Act protects service providers for remarks made and actions taken by their users, and so this ruling comes as no surprise.
However, that law runs in conflict with an anti-terrorism law prohibiting support for terror groups.
The families have the option to amend and resubmit the suit.
Lloyd “Carl” Fields Jr. and James Damon Creach were shot and killed in 2015 while working as US government contractors in Amman, Jordan. ISIS later claimed responsibility for their deaths. The lawsuit names Anwar Abu Zaid as the lone gunman.
Orrick noted that the lawsuit did not claim that the ISIS recruited or communicated with Abu Zaid using Twitter, nor did the lawsuit accuse either of using Twitter to plan, carry out or raise funds for the attack. Rather, the lawsuit said Twitter provided “material support” in allowing the use of Twitter accounts for recruitment and other purposes.
A similar lawsuit against Google, Facebook and Twitter was filed in June by the father of a young woman killed in the Paris massacre last November, also an ISIS attack.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
AP contributed to this report.