At Last! Terror Victim Files Suit Against Twitter

Rusty has long advocated holding internet hosting companies and other online services accountable for their deplorable record of preventing terrorists from using their services.

We have a long history with providers, some co-operative and some not. Some willfully blind but few take a proactive stance. Depending on reports from users but few actually taking proactive steps.

Of course at times there are perfectly good reasons to leave selected sites. But in general the government has refused to sanction even willfully blind or supportive providers. Hence Rusty's suggestion that the victims or terrorists step in a file suit.

Now at long last a widow is filing suit against Twitter for their part in allowing Islamic State to use its services.

he widow of a man killed in a attack on a Jordanian police training center has sued Twitter Inc, accusing it of making it easier for ISIS to use the social media company's platform to spread its message.

Tamara Fields, a Florida woman whose husband Lloyd died in the Nov. 9 attack for which she said ISIS, a common acronym for Islamic State, claimed responsibility, is seeking unspecified damages for Twitter's having allegedly "knowingly or with willful blindness" provided material support to terrorists.

"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," according to the complaint filed on Wednesday in the federal court in Oakland, California.

Obviously piles of dead bodies and war is not motivation enough for providers to act. But possibly if they take a big hit in the pocketbook, the only thing they really care about they will take proactive steps against terrorists.

Like maybe actually hiring people dedicated to collecting information on terrorists and turning over to authorities without a warrant, and then removing those users and tracking and foiling their attempts to reload themselves.

A few large judgments might provide just the right motivation.

Posted by: Howie at 10:55 AM


1 Twitter and Facebook have people whose job it is to look out for and delete posts containing titties or something. They could use them to watch out for terrorist communications also.

Posted by: Arawak at January 14, 2016 11:02 AM

2 I'm rather leery of holding companies accountable for how a third party uses their products without some clear boundaries. That's getting into the same territory as suing gun manufacturers or stores after someone uses the gun for murder.

The caveat is when the company knowingly facilitates such use of their product, like a gun store making an under-the-table sale to someone who failed the background check. Also, in a perfect world I would say Twitter shouldn't be expected to actively comb through and police their user-base, but that precedent has already been set by the regulations on gun shops, so there's no legal or ethical reason not to impose it on other companies like Twitter.

They just need to make sure the argument stays on the side of "Twitter knew of and allowed this use", which it looks like the suit does. I'm not sure you could claim damages for Twitter not actively searching for Jihadi assholes without it being required by law, but there's probably a solid case as stated that Twitter "knowingly or with willful blindness" allows the scum to use its service.

Posted by: Cortillaen at January 14, 2016 11:34 AM

3 But that is how the military track them.

Posted by: Phil at January 14, 2016 11:57 AM

4 Phil, Trust me if the military can pull pre-production videos off AQ's laptop and relaase them before AQ can suspending a few Twitters is not going to be a serious impediment.

There must be balance.

Anyway little known that Google, Facebook and Twiiter outsource moderators in places like Morocco. Which is part of the reason its so hard to get stuff flagged off.

The moderators, working as independent contractors, are in some cases sympathetic if not outright supporters of terrorists.

Posted by: Tony Montana Political Refugee From Cuba at January 14, 2016 01:18 PM

5 I've seen cases, there is a dude in Japan who runs Apnic or is way up there.

One of those internet founders. Randy is his name as I recall.

I've tried to get him to remove known terrorist sites. He doesn't care. He knowingly hosts them, doesn't care.

Thinks its a violation of AQ and ISIS speech rights.

Posted by: Tony Montana Political Refugee From Cuba at January 14, 2016 01:22 PM

6 I don't like this idea. Can a family sue a gun company because its gun was used in a murder? Can Rosie O'Donnel sue Oneida for making the spoons that she used to get fat with?

Posted by: Kevin at January 14, 2016 07:38 PM

7 @Kevin,

Guns are specifically exempted from negligence because they are a manufactured weapon. I think the same is true of all weapons. After all its MADE TO KILL PEOPLE.

However even though some organizations are Specially Designated terrorist entities subject to sanction they exist online.

If the government fails to follow its own sanction, even if the motive is "intelligence", they I feel people damaged by that policy can act when their government fails to do so. They may file suit. Because the law says its unlawful to provide services to specially designated terrorist entities. The law is what it is despite the failure of the government to enforce its own policy.

Feel free to lobby for an exemption for web providers from negligence even though Twitter is not designed specifically as a weapon. Good luck.

Or to have organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and ISIS removed from the list.

Posted by: Tony Montana Political Refugee From Cuba at January 15, 2016 08:55 AM

8 Won't work.

Posted by: Greyrooster at January 15, 2016 09:33 PM

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