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Social Media Giants Sued For Helping ISIS ( 135

Long-time Slashdot reader nnet quotes the Toronto Sun: Social media giants Twitter, Google and Facebook are being sued by the families of victims of the San Bernardino terror attacks. The lawsuit claims those companies aided ISIS by letting them build their online profile and bolster recruitment. Fourteen people were killed in the December 2015 attacks by twisted husband-wife Islamist extremists Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. "Without defendants Twitter, Facebook and Google (YouTube), the explosive growth of IS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible," the suit, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles, alleges.
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Social Media Giants Sued For Helping ISIS

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  • Won't go anywhere (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cigawoot ( 1242378 ) on Sunday May 07, 2017 @11:42AM (#54371297)

    As much as I feel for the families of those who were killed, there isn't much you can do. This lawsuit just feels like a desperate attempt at answers where they don't exist.

    No court would expect the operators of social networks to pour billions of dollars into moderating their platforms. They can remove content when its found and reported, but it is completely unreasonable to expect the operators of social media platforms to keep their platforms free of terrorist material while at the same time keeping it open enough to be usable.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately, that's the cost of actively policing your content. Once you start doing it, as Facebook and Twitter have, you lose "common carrier" status and can be held liable for what you've missed.

      • Actually that's part of the protections of the CDA. Providers can moderate content without losing the safe harbor. That's in there to avoid the perverse disincentive you describe.

      • Re:Won't go anywhere (Score:5, Informative)

        by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Sunday May 07, 2017 @01:09PM (#54371585)

        Unfortunately, that's the cost of actively policing your content. Once you start doing it, as Facebook and Twitter have, you lose "common carrier" status and can be held liable for what you've missed.

        You're not a lawyer, so stop trying to practice law. The reason that we're so protective of that is that even well-meaning people get so many things so wrong.

        For example, the EFF, which is significantly staffed by lawyers, reports []:

        Courts have held that Section 230 prevents you from being held liable even if you exercise the usual prerogative of publishers to edit the material you publish. You may also delete entire posts. However, you may still be held responsible for information you provide in commentary or through editing. For example, if you edit the statement, "Fred is not a criminal" to remove the word "not," a court might find that you have sufficiently contributed to the content to take it as your own.

        Do you know why? Because the law literally says []:

        (c) Protection for 'Good Samaritan' blocking and screening of offensive material[:]
        (1) Treatment of publisher or speaker[:] 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.
        (2) Civil liability[:] No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of--
        (A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or
        (B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).

        So no, policing the content on your site does not make you liable, protections are not based on "common carrier" status, and you certainly cannot be liable for content that you've "missed" or even decided not to block.

        BTW: I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer, in part because you're an idiot.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This lawsuit just feels like a desperate attempt at answers

      This lawsuit just feels like a desperate attempt by some ambulance chasing lawyers to get rich off someone's loss.

    • This lawsuit is a desperate attempt to empty out some deep pockets.
    • Like being unreasonable or outright impossible has ever been a court to not come to a verdict that demands the impossible.

    • by jamesjw ( 213986 )

      Agreed, They might as well sue Apple for providing a phone that facilitated communications on said social media services, the car manufacturer who built a vehicle that allowed somebody with questionable intentions from starting the vehicle and those responsible for building the roads that allowed the attacker to get to their destination without obstruction.

    • I don't think they're doing it for answers, they're just seizing an opportunity to make money.

    • Isn't it a thing you can't sue whatever gun maker, or gun shop or bullet company or whoever in relation to a crime committed with their products, this should really be in the same boat.
    • There's much more to this...

      There is that "Freedom of Speech" thing that is fundamental to a free society.
  • And what next? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They are going to sue manufacturer of the SUV which was used by terrorists to escape?

    • by mfh ( 56 )

      They are going to sue manufacturer of the SUV which was used by terrorists to escape?

      I take your point but a vehicle is very different from a communication platform.

      The manufacturer of the SUV relinquishes control of the vehicle to the licensed purchaser. The communications platform stays in communication and continues an ongoing relationship with those who could misuse it.

      An example of this is if a hostile government used a private company to rig or influence an election with hate speech or false news. The

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Or sue the backbone operators for allowing the traffic to flow over the Internet. Maybe the DNS providers up to the root servers? Or the companies responsible for having the terrorists as customers to get in the Internet. Maybe the cellphone companies for allowing them to communicate. The chip makers for all the devices. Surely they can be sued as well. Our society is overly litigious and that is costing us more dearly than the physical acts of the terrorists. The reactive actions we make are letting the te

  • Let's just enact martial law nationwide. These dangerous things named "streets" are places were criminals can meet and gather.

  • Doesn't the Communications Decency Act give social media companies immunity in cases like this?

  • These outfits pretend they are some kind of common carrier until they realize there is more money being content creators (and competing with their customers) until they realize there is more money in selling and analyzing users' data until they realize such intimate knowledge of their users' data makes them liable for distribution of terrorist materials and then they pretend to be some kind of common carrier again...
  • golf clap (Score:4, Funny)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday May 07, 2017 @12:15PM (#54371411) Homepage Journal

    the explosive growth of IS

    I see what you did there.

  • Social media is a bad idea for humanity in the first place. Since it's too late to close that Pandora's box, we really have to take what comes of it. You make a gun, some people will use it to kill. You make a giant communication platform, some terrorists will use it. It is up to people whether they want these things to be allowed in their society or not. Once we are allowed them there is little that can be done about the ramifications.
    • The crucial problem with all those cases is that so many people argue radically on the basis of false dichotomies rather than opting for reasonable, though perhaps boring middle grounds. Closing down Daesh twitter accounts and Daesh Facebook pages is just a reasonable thing to do, and no, it doesn't inevitably lead to some slippery slope that automatically turns the world into a fascist dictatorship. It's a matter of balancing Pros and Cons and implementing good mechanisms for the balancing of powers and ta

  • This is the *only* way we can even hope to held the enablers responsible for their actions: financially.
    • Well then why not sue the country responsible for setting up the conditions that enabled ISIS to be formed in the first place?

      • Well then why not sue the country responsible for setting up the conditions that enabled ISIS to be formed in the first place?

        Well that would actually be a good idea. The only problem with it is that there is no *single* country responsible here. The entire world (including but not limited to the 'western' and 'islamic' country's) just stood by and let this happen. When the civil war broke out in Syria ~6-ish years ago, it should have been stopped right there and then. Instead, *everyone* had this 'not my problem' attitude, decided to turn away, and let it foster. In fact, the 'western' country's didn't even start caring about the

        • Are you seriously advocating that the US and other Western countries should pick winners and losers in civil war, and send troops in to enforce that? That's the sort of thing that got us into a lot of this mess in the first place.

  • Sue Religion? (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Murdoch5 ( 1563847 )
    Instead of blaming Social Media, why not get rid of the root problem, religion? in 2017 we still have adults who think invisible, non-existent men in the sky, actually exist and have a plan for them. It's fair to say if you follow any kind of organized religion, you are a child, an immature, irrational, illogical child, trapped in adults body. ISIS is purely the cause of immature adults, who think God exists, PERIOD!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You couldn't be more wrong. The real root is some humans being assholes. That's not related and not correlating with religion. Some religions are perfectly peaceful and you don't need to be religious to be an asshole. Even ISIS is barely religious, it's just an excuse they use.

    • didn't trump just sign some thing last week to purposely let religion do this? >_>
      • Well I'm in Canada but yes, he signed a bill or order that lets religious people discriminate against others, because they have an invisible, non-existent friend.
        • The bill lets people who have the same invisible, non-existent friend as the president and most of the rest of the elected government (who are supposed to keep church and state separate) to discriminate against people who have a different invisible, non-existent friend. However it is still wrong for those other people with the different invisible, non-existent friend to discriminate against people who have the same invisible, non-existent friend as the president.

          Please note that some people do have the sam

    • Instead of blaming Social Media, why not get rid of the root problem, religion?

      If we didn't kill each other over gods, we'd kill each other over economic systems or text editors. People require a good excuse to be bad people, but it doesn't really matter what the excuse is.

      The second Iraq war was fought on the pretext of "freedom" and "democracy". How about we get rid of those? That'd fix the problem, right?

      • Frighteningly, there are those far from the Light who use neither vim nor emacs. Obviously we need a crusade or two.

        Seriously, if you look back in history, revolutionary movements often tended to adopt a local heresy as justification for their actions and to provide a bigger "us-them" boundary. The battles between Spain and the Ottomans for control of the Mediterranean in the 1500s were easily justified as Christian vs. Muslim, but they were mostly just Great Power struggles.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Sunday May 07, 2017 @12:36PM (#54371477)

    I'm not fan of social networking but I realize that they are just tools for communication. By their logic, everyone that has forwarded communication technologies (e.g. telephones and internet) has also enabled them. Social networking isn't a weapon, it cannot hurt people. Perhaps they should go after the people who do sell things that are used exclusively to hurt people.

  • This lawsuit won't last long. When the NSA and CIA have a vested interest in having Islamists out in the open and posting on well-known networks, there will have been many times they asked Twitter, Google and Facebook for communications, to leave accounts open etc to monitor contributors. For this reason, this suit will go nowhere. The agencies don't want the tech companies to admit it, the tech companies don't want to admit it, and the agencies REALLY don't want eavesdropping tools to be taken away from t
  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Sunday May 07, 2017 @01:22PM (#54371649) Journal
    If they didn't provide water to terrorists, how could they survive?
  • Oxygen has also been sued for helping to keep terrorists alive.
  • I've never understood the common reaction of those grieving from a tragedy to demand *financial compensation*. Their family members died, not them! Why do they think they are entitled to money at all? The only explanation is that they are greedy bastards who only care about themselves and see an opportunity to take advantage of the tragic situation. It's sickening.

    It would be one thing if they were taking a stand to fight against an unjust system, but they're not doing that at all. They should all be a

    • Their family members died, not them!

      Well, there are two ways to look at it.

      First, if I'm contributing money to my family and I'm unable to do so because I'm killed, it's reasonable to expect the person who killed me to be responsible for that. Second, the lifeblood of corporations is money--you can't put a company in jail. So how else do you control corporations that are ultimately only interested in money?

      Don't get me wrong--it sounds like lawyers decided that they might hit a payday so they're giving it a shot.

    • Many state's laws require the executor of an estate (person closing a deceased person's life and distributing the property and all in either intestate deaths or those with a will) to pursue any wrongful death claims there might be or end up liable themselves for any missed claims. In a lot of situations, it is not up to the people being greedy but following the law.

      That being said, I'm not sure this is one of those cases. It may be but I have not invested any time in researching it. But this is California,

  • Chances are it's your various governments, American, European, Russia etc. As usual it's just business.

    Here this is just plain old scapegoating to control the medium and individual communications. Standard stuff. You go with what works.

  • Saudi Arabia falls and the Sunni Wahabi Jihadist movement is crushed.

    Saudi Arabia is the "Nazi Germany" of the War on Terrorism. ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and all these terrorist groups are actually Saudi front Armies. The people suing FaceBook, Google, etc. are actually suing free speech.

    Stopping what's going on would require basically every country in the world to stop fighting over fossil fuels, invest in renewable resources that do not come from the middle east, and developing weapons that make the Jihadists inca

  • After all, THEY let the bad guys ON TO the Internet! I'm sorry, I feel for these people but come on...
  • Why not also sue the manufacturer of the weapons they used? Why not sue the auto manufacturer who made the car they drove in? Why not sue the farmers who grew the cotton used to make their clothing - because no self-respecting jihadist likes going on a shooting rampage while naked.
  • Better sue the company that made the vehicle the shooters used to go to and from the attack. Also better sue the gun manufacturers for making the weapons the shooters used. While we're at it, we should sue Walmart and some other stores for providing food and clothing to keep the shooters alive until they could kill their victims. Lastly, sue the people who rented the shooters their apartment that kept them safely sheltered until they were able to go on their rampage.
  • The israel-based SITE intelligence group, which was the source for all those weirdly well-produced "ISIS" videos in 2014, was the source of the claim that Farook's wife was radicalized in a private jihadist Facebook group that SITE had magically joined and had happened to be monitoring before the San Bernadino attack. SITE never provised evidence for this claim, but the media ran it, anyway. Anyone claiming ISIS has an effective social media front is full of shit.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.