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Orlando Families Sue Google, Facebook, For Aiding ISIS

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Tech giants Facebook, Google and Twitter are facing lawsuits from the families of three victims of the ISIS-inspired shooting at an Orlando nightclub in June that left 50 dead and 53 wounded. 

The lawsuit alleges that the tech companies provided “material support” to ISIS that helped the terror group radicalize the shooter, Omar Mateen, according to the Indian Express.

“Without Defendants Twitter, Facebook, and Google (YouTube), the explosive growth of [the Islamic States] over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible," the lawsuit states, according to Fox News. “They create unique content by combining IS postings with advertisements in a way that is specifically targeted at the viewer. Defendants share revenue with IS for its content and profit from IS postings through advertising revenue.” 

In December, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft entered an arrangement in which they will share a database of images and videos to be more responsive in quickly removing terrorism content.

Facebook released a statement related to the suit, according to Reuters: “We are committed to providing a service where people feel safe when using Facebook. We sympathize with the victims and their families."

Although Twitter declined to comment, it claimed in August that it had removed 360,000 accounts that violated the social media site's anti-terrorism promotion policies since mid-2015. 

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is at the forefront of the lawsuit, states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider,” according to Fox News. This means online platforms cannot be held accountable for content posted to their sites by users.

Mark Bartholomew, University of Buffalo law school professor says, “Section 230 is a free pass to online service providers as long as they act only as a pass-through.”

The lawsuit attempts to circumvent this protection by alleging that the social media platforms acted as more then a “pass-through” by pairing user generated posts with targeted advertisements.

Sources: Indian Express, Reuters, Fox News  / Photo Credit: New York Daily News

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