Twitter sued for allowing ISIS propaganda

Members of an ISIS media agency distribute propaganda to civilians in Mosul, Iraq

The widow of an American killed in Jordan in November of last year has filed a federal lawsuit against Twitter, alleging that the social media platform gave a voice to ISIS militants, allowing the terror network to spread its propaganda and effectively recruit foreign fighters.

The suit filed by widow Tamara Fields alleges that Twitter had failed to take appropriate steps in limiting the use by ISIS members of its platform.

"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," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit comes days after the White House announced its intentions to get tech giants including Twitter, Microsoft, and Apple on board in their fight against terror online.

Fields' husband was killed along with five others on a November 9th attack at a police training facility in Amman, Jordan. But the perpetrator of the attack - a captain in the Jordanian police - has no links to ISIS, and there is no evidence to suggest his attack was motivated by the terror group.

Fields' lawsuit against Twitter alleges that the social media company violated federal anti-terrorism law by providing material support to ISIS, giving the terror group an "unfettered" ability to maintain Twitter accounts, which Fields believes allowed the group to spread propaganda with ease.

In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Twitter expressed their sympathies with Fields, but noted their belief that the lawsuit is frivolous.

"While we believe the lawsuit is without merit, we are deeply saddened to hear of this family's terrible loss. Violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that clear."

The lawsuit by Fields is the first time a social media company has been sued for allegedly enabling terrorism on its platform. If the suit is successful, it could set a significant precedent for how social media platforms and online forums approach radical speech in the future.

Still, Twitter is far from the only platform ISIS members have embraced to spread their message.

In November, messaging app Telegram announced that it had shut down 78 public channels used for coordination by ISIS members. And last month, members of the ISIS Health Department created a Tumblr page to share medical information and advice with supporters of the caliphate.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article used a different logo image.

Source: Reuters

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