Families of Orlando nightclub shooting victims are suing several social media outlets for allegedly providing ISIS with “material support.” Gunman Omar Mateen pledged his allegiance to ISIS, and the FBI determined that he had been radicalized over the internet. The victims’ families maintain that social media sites, along with YouTube and Google, helped enable terror’s growth.
The lawsuit alleges that Facebook and Twitter “provided the terrorist group ISIS with accounts they use to spread extremist propaganda, raise funds, and attract new recruits.” However and while the Islamic State has shown itself to be technologically savvy (even using a 24-Hour “Jihadi help desk” to help spread their message), many social media networks have taken steps to disable terror-based accounts.
For its part, Twitter has begun to crack down on this issue, as it has shut down more than 125,000 accounts that were promoting terrorist attacks since 2015. And earlier this month, Facebook (along with YouTube) began to take steps to crack down on terrorist content with “digital fingerprinting” to label recruitment videos.
While some may see these actions as arriving too late, similar lawsuits have run into difficulties. Gizmodo reports that social media sites are protected by the Communications Decency Act, and companies are not responsible for the content published by its users. One family member, Juan Guerrero, said a new approach would be a relief: “I wish we could get some regulations put in place. They have to do something to prevent these people from doing things like this.”