Facebook, Twitter, Google sued over San Bernardino attack

The families of the San Bernardino shooting victims are suing Facebook, Google and Twitter, accusing them of knowingly allowing terrorist activity to take place on their respective social media platforms.

"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 complaint said. The lawsuit claims the companies aided and abetted the terrorist attacks, and are liable for wrongful death, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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 San Bernardino shooters, Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, are responsible for ending the lives of 27-year-old Clayborn, 31-year-old Nguyen and 52-year-old Thalasinos along with 11 others.

According to the family members' complaint filed in federal court on Wednesday, the social media platforms have "knowingly and recklessly" allowed the Islamic State to use the platforms as a tool to spread extremist propaganda and to elicit funds and new recruits.

"Even if Farook and Malik had never been directly in contact with ISIS, ISIS' use of social media directly influenced their actions on the day of the San Bernardino massacre", the lawsuit states, using an acronym for Islamic State.

In a separate venue, meanwhile, attorneys for the three companies filed a motion to dismiss the Orlando lawsuit last month citing a safe-harbor provision contained under the federal Communications Decency Act "establish [ing] that user-generated content on digital platforms can not be used in proceedings against the platforms", Fortune reported.

Spokespersons for Twitter, Facebook and Google could not be reached for comment.

"Farook and Malik were radicalized by ISIS' use of social media". Similar lawsuits carrying nearly identical accusations against Facebook, Twitter, and Google were previously filed in courts across the country. The tech companies have argued they are not liable for the content of their users, asserting protections under the Communications Decency Act, the federal law that provides immunity to internet companies that publish user content.

Facebook told several publications in a statement that it sympathizes with the victims and the families.

  • Salvatore Jensen