Twitter is being sued by a Florida defense contractor who claims that the social media website has knowingly allowed terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State to make use of its services in order to spread their violent messages. The family of the Florida defense contractor was killed in a terrorist attack in November.
On Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. The lawsuit focuses on the death of Lloyd “Carl” Fields Jr., who died at the hands of a Jordanian police captain who he was training at the International Police Training Center in Amman. Additionally, another unnamed American contractor was also killed in the attack.
This training center is operated and funded in part by the United States Department of State. The Islamic State later took credit for the attack. The lawsuit accuses Twitter of allowing the attack to take place. It claims that Twitter permits terrorists to recruit and spread extremist ideology on its messaging platform. It is believed that ISIS maintains about 70,000 Twitter accounts, and at least 79 of these are “official”. In all, the terrorist group posts about 90 tweets every minute.
The lawsuit reads, “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."
A spokesperson for Twitter responded to the allegations saying that while such incidents are tragic, it cannot be held responsible for the acts of terrorist groups.
The spokesperson said, “While we believe the lawsuit is without merit, we are deeply saddened to hear of this family's terrible loss. Like people around the world, we are horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by extremist groups and their ripple effects on the Internet. Violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that clear. 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."
Twitter has been at the center of similar accusations in the past. Last month, Twitter was fined by the Turkish government for refusing to remove content that was determined to be “terrorist propaganda”. In response, Twitter filed a lawsuit claiming that the fine was illegal.