The families of two victims of ISIS terror attacks in Paris and Brussels has filed an anti-terrorism lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against social media giant Twitter for the company’s role in aiding and abetting ISIS in carrying out the attacks. Two hundred people were killed and hundreds injured in the attacks.
“This is the first lawsuit to document Twitter’s key role in the rise of ISIS to become the most feared terrorist organization in the world, and to detail how ISIS used Twitter specifically in connection with two of the worst terror attacks in Europe’s history,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Israeli legal NGO Shurat HaDin and the plaintiff’s lawyer on the case, in an official statement.
“Among social media platforms, Twitter has been the most stubborn one to refuse to cut off its service to terrorists, taking the position that ‘the tweets must flow,’ even if it means assisting in mass murder,” she claimed.
In an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS), Darshan-Leitner explained that the US Anti-Terrorism Act grants civil rights to victims of international terrorism to sue for damages. Lawsuits can follow corporations from all sectors responsible for assisting terror organizations or their affiliates.
“This not a criminal case, we are not indicting the social media giant, but suing for compensation and punitive damages,” she said.
Accordingly, the prosecution will have to prove that Twitter knowingly and intentionally provided service to a terror organization, that they knew ISIS held accounts used before, during and after the attacks for the purposes of recruitment, indoctrination or intimidation in the context of those specific attacks.
Moreover, they will have to prove that the accounts were used regularly and were allowed to persist despite several warnings to shut them down.
The current lawsuit, Cain v. Twitter, follows a similar one in 2015, also backed by Shurat HaDin, on behalf of some 20,000 Israelis who sued Facebook in order to get the company to stop allowing Palestinian terrorists to incite violent attacks against Israeli citizens and Jews.
Regarding two bills aimed at preventing incitement on social media currently making their way through the legislative process, Darshan-Leitner said, “You should not need a judge to decide whether content is incitement or not. Private companies can construct their own regulations, or ‘community standards,’ as was done until now. However, leaving that decision to the corporations proved to be insufficient due to ‘matters of interpretation’”
“What the Knesset bills (one sponsored by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and the other one by Zionist Union MK Revital Swid) oblige the corporations to do is to raise those standards on topics related to terror. Their purpose is to impose stricter restrictions and monitor social media over the content of their pages. I totally support this stricter liability system,” she said.
Though it could take the court years to hand down a verdict in Cain v. Twitter, Darshan-Leitner said she remained confident in the prospects of having a positive impact on Twitter very early on in the process.
“The ‘acceptableness’ of the case has been measured right at the beginning. I believe that Twitter will start changing its behavior and rules as soon as the lawsuit is filed, and that we will not have to wait for a judgment.
“For example, when we sued banks for aiding and abetting terror groups, we did not have to wait for a final judgment. They started very early on closing down accounts, refused to provide services to charities that identified with terror organizations, and so forth,
Article reprinted with permission from TPS