Twitter Faces Lawsuit For Allowing ISIS To Spread Its Message

| by Robert Fowler

A grieving family is suing social media titan Twitter following months on international criticism that the company was not doing enough to curb the amount of pro-ISIS propaganda being spread through its social network.

Along with four others, 46-year-old U.S. government contractor Lloyd Carl Fields Jr. was murdered by a member of ISIS in Jordan, in November 2015, San Jose Mercury News reports.

Fields’ family filed a lawsuit against Twitter on Jan. 13 in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleging the social media website had enabled ISIS to spread its influence beyond its territory.

The lawsuit states:

"For years, Twitter has knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use its social network as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits. Without Twitter, the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible."

While Twitter’s culpability in Fields’ death will have to be decided in court, the social media company has been criticized in recent months. France and the U.S. have knocked Twitter for not doing enough to shut down the thousands of profiles used by ISIS members to spread propaganda and coordinate attacks.

Facebook has also shared blame, with French President Francois Hollande attempting to introduce a law that would have made the social media site and search engine Google held accountable as “accomplices” of hate groups like ISIS, according to The Verge.

This was in January 2015, shortly after the terror attack against Paris-based magazine Charlie Hebdo. A year later, both the U.S. and France, along with several other nations have been attacked by ISIS affiliates.

Twitter hosted roughly 46,000 ISIS accounts between September to December 2014. It has since deleted 10,000 accounts and it clarified rules of conduct on Dec. 29, 2015, New York Post reports.

“You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease,” Twitter said.

In response to the lawsuit filed by Fields’ family, a Twitter spokesman said the company had been doing all it could to root out extremist elements using its services, San Jose Mercury News reports.

"We have teams around the world actively investigating reports of rule violations, identifying violating conduct, partnering with organizations countering extremist content online and working with law enforcement entities when appropriate,” the company said in a statement.

Sources: New York Post, San Jose Mercury News, The Verge / Photo credit: Yoshimasa Niwa / Wikimedia Commons