The families of three young men killed at Orlando club Pule in June, are suing Facebook, Twitter, and Google, claiming that the digital companies were responsible for the death of the men. Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes and Juan Guerrero were the three named.
Their families blame the digital companies for giving ISIS “material support” as they provided the shooter with accounts that “spread extremist propaganda, raise funds, and attract new recruits.”
During the attack, the shooter, Omar Mateen, had claimed loyalty to ISIS. The terrorist organization claimed responsibility afterward. However, investigations revealed that Mateen had also claimed commitment with other radical groups which were of direct opposition to ISIS. Despite these facts, Keith Alman, the attorney representing the three families assert that “Mateen was radicalized by ISIS using the defendant’s tools for that express purpose.” The families included messages posted on Facebook and Twitter along with the publicized propaganda posted on YouTube.
Although these web companies block and delete these accounts, the families did not see this as sufficient since as one goes down another would go up. Altman contends that the web providers are not taking the responsibility needed. Previous web companies have been protected by, Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act 1996. However, under this act, a website that purely hosts information and does not comment on the information itself, cannot be held responsible for content posted by users.
Altman argues that the interpretation of the statute is no longer applicable since new technological improvements have fostered algorithms that can curate user content. These algorithms should be deemed as sufficient to count as interfering with information rather than merely hosting it.
Altman states that the web companies “create unique content by matching ISIS postings with advertisement based upon information known about the viewer. “as such the ad revenue should be interpreted in a way to find that “the defendant’s finance ISIS’s activities” from the shared ad revenue.
If the family wins this case, experts say, it could change the face of social media as we know it, forever.
Credit: Jessica Wong
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