Lawsuit accusing Twitter of helping rise of ISIS is refiled

A lawsuit accusing Twitter of helping the rise of ISIS and contributing to the death of an American contractor in a Jordan attack last year has been revised for a second time and filed anew after being struck down earlier this month.

In the original suit filed in January, the family of Lloyd Carl Fields, Jr. said Twitter “knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use its social network as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits.”

In the revised lawsuit filed Tuesday (and a previous revise filed in March), the family of another contractor, James Damon Creach, who died in the same attack in November, is also listed as a plaintiff.

A couple of weeks ago, Twitter announced that it has closed down 235,000 terrorism-related accounts in the past six months. The plaintiffs mentioned that and other recent anti-terrorism efforts by the San Francisco company, but said in the lawsuit filed Tuesday: “Still, to this day, Twitter permits groups designated by the U.S. government as Foreign Terrorist Organizations to maintain official accounts, including Hamas (@hamasinfo and @HamasInfoEn) and Hizbollah (@almanarnews).”

The plaintiffs also charge that Twitter’s direct-messaging capability “is no different than handing [ISIS] a satellite phone, walkie-talkies or the use of a mail drop, all of which terrorists use for private communications in order to further their extremist agendas.”

In the ruling dismissing the lawsuit a couple of weeks ago, Judge William Orrick of the Northern District of California wrote: “Apart from the private nature of Direct Messaging, plaintiffs identify no other way in which their Direct Messaging theory seeks to treat Twitter as anything other than a publisher of information provided by another information content provider.”

The Verge notes that the plaintiffs’ charges about Twitter’s DM feature could be key:

The clearest legal distinction between a Twitter account and a satellite phone comes from the Safe Harbor clause, which generally protects service providers from liability for data hosted on their network.

A Twitter spokesman told SiliconBeat the company has no comment on the revised lawsuit.


Photo of Twitter logo from  AFP/Getty Images


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