San Bernardino, CA
Surviving family members of those killed in the 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino filed suit last week against social media giants Facebook, Google (YouTube), and Twitter.
In the suit, family members claimed the corporations failed to adequately delete ISIS messages designed to inspire such attacks.
According to the complaint, “For years, defendants have knowingly and recklessly provided the terrorist group ISIS with accounts to use its social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds, and attracting new recruits.” The complaint further stated that the platforms provided by the defendants aided the explosive growth of the terrorist organization in recent years.
In their complaint, family members alleged a variety of complaints, including wrongful death, aiding and abetting terror, and providing material support to terrorists, among other concerns.
The discourse in this lawsuit is rooted in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act (CDA), which states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” The traditional interpretation of this Section of the CDA is that social media platforms, like the defendants in this case, are not liable for what users post on their sites. Over the years, this Section of the CDA has successfully shielded these companies from liability.
However, some lawyers and social media experts are beginning to view this Section with different eyes, despite assertions by the defendants of their willingness to aid in the fight against terror. That assistance, some legal and industry experts now complain, has remained limited because the social media companies have refused to share proprietary information, such as algorithms that could aid in predicting attacks.
Fourteen people were killed in December 2015, when ISIS inspired terrorists Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, opened fire on a meeting of county employees at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.