Twitter Faces Lawsuit Over ISIS Growth

| by Diana Kruzman

The widow of an American man killed by ISIS in Jordan is suing Twitter for providing the terrorist organization a platform for recruitment.

Tamara Fields of Cape Coral, Florida, filed the lawsuit in San Francisco federal court on Jan. 13, accusing the social media company of knowingly allowing ISIS to use Twitter for recruitment, fundraising and propaganda, reports Reuters. The suit, Fields v. Twitter Inc., claimed that these ISIS efforts, facilitated by Twitter, led to the death of her husband in 2015.

Lloyd “Carl” Fields Jr. was among five people killed in a “lone wolf” attack by an ISIS militant at the Jordanian International Police Training Centre in Amman on Nov. 9. A former policeman, Fields was working as a government contractor to train police from Jordan, Iraq and the Palestinian forces when he was shot down by Jordanian police officer Anwar Abu Zeid.

ISIS, like other terrorist organizations, uses social media platforms to spread its message around the world. Although Twitter, like social media giant Facebook, has a strict anti-hate speech policy, it is not as stringent in enforcing its regulations. Of 1,003 global content removal requests received from January to June 2015, Twitter complied with only 42 percent, according to Bloomberg.

“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,” Fields claimed in the lawsuit.

Fields is requesting an unspecified amount of compensation from Twitter. The company’s response denied the claims, but restated its anti-terrorism position.

“While we believe the lawsuit is without merit, we are deeply saddened to hear of this family’s terrible loss,” Twitter said in an email to Bloomberg. “Violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that clear.”

While the Obama administration has created a task force to prevent terrorist groups’ use of social media, Twitter and other companies have been hesitant to hand over user data to intelligence organizations. Of the 25 content removal requests Twitter received from the U.S. government and law enforcement agencies in the first half of 2015, none were taken down.

Sources: Fast Company, Bloomberg, Yahoo News, Reuters / Photo credit: IA Interior Architects/Office Snapshots