Twitter, Facebook, and Google are being sued by the families of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting victims for allegedly providing “material support” to the Islamic State.
Fox News reports that a federal suit was filed by the victims’ families on Monday against Twitter, Facebook, and Google as the families believe that the companies “provided the terrorist group ISIS with accounts they use to spread extremist propaganda, raise funds, and attract new recruits.” The lawsuit further states, “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.”
The Florida shooting took place in June at Pulse nightclub, a prominent gay club in Orlando where an Islamic terrorist by the name of Omar Mateen opened fire, killing 49 people and injuring 53 more. Mateen was shot dead at the scene of the attack by police forces. Mateen had previously been interviewed by the FBI but was not under surveillance at the time of the attacks.
Speaking to Fox News, Juan Gurerro, who is the father of one of the Pulse nightclub victims, said, “Life has not been easy for me or my whole family, it is something I remember and have to live with every day.” The lawyer representing the families in the case, Keith Altman, further said, “Mateen was radicalized by ISIS using the defendant’s tools for that express purpose.”
This is not the first time that victims of radical Islamic attacks have attempted to sue social media companies for allegedly allowing terror groups to coordinate via their digital platforms. The family of a 46-year-old former Florida Sheriff, Lloyd “Carl” Fields Jr, who was killed while providing police training in the Middle East, sued Twitter in January, claiming that the social media company “knowingly permitted” ISIS accounts to spread extremist propaganda.
Mark Bartholomew, a professor at the University of Buffalo School of Law, discussed what a successfull lawsuit such as this could mean for social media companies in the future.“It would be a big change because it would be the first crack at making these companies liable for what shows up on our feeds,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see how big that crack is, because right now it’s a door without many cracks.”