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Widow Sues Twitter for Enabling Rise of ISIS
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Photo courtesy of Twitter

Summary: A Florida widow is suing Twitter for the platform it provided ISIS in the killing of her husband.

Twitter is being sued for the first time for allowing ISIS to use its services. A Florida widow claims the death of her husband in November was aided through Twitter’s services.

  
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Tamara Fields alleges that ISIS has used Twitter to rally forces for years, failing to suspend terrorist accounts on government requests. Her husband, Lloyd “Carl” Fields, died during a “lone wolf” attack in Jordan.

Fast Company points out that it will be hard to win such a case against Twitter, and if they did win, it would set a chilling precedent, as many others could likewise file suit that those killed by ISIS were aided by Twitter.

As with other Internet service providers, Twitter isn’t liable for content created by their users, due to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which reads, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

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Field’s attorney Joshua Arisohn notes there are exceptions to CDA 230, including the one he will pursue, the Anti-Terrorism Act. Using this tactic, he will have to show that Twitter demonstrated “knowledge” or “willful blindness” to ISIS usage regarding this attack.

Asked if he could point to any specific tweets associated with the attack, Arisohn told Reuters, “It is foreseeable that giving ISIS unfettered access to Twitter accounts would enable them to recruit, fundraise, and spread their propaganda and that this would lead to the deaths of innocent civilians.”



And so no specific tweet or plan of attack is mentioned, just that ISIS has used Twitter to rally militants from the West to plan attacks.

The CDA is meant to give social media companies cover when their users commit libel,” Arisohn told Fast Company in an email. “But Congress did not intend to give companies like Twitter a get out of jail free card when they knowingly hand over powerful communications tools to designated terrorist organizations so that they can recruit, fundraise, and spread propaganda.”

Arisohn must prove Twitter did this knowingly or in willful ignorance, but as for Twitter, they have responded, saying, “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 told The New York Times they shut down 10,000 accounts on April 2, 2015 for tweeting violent threats, and that they shut down 790 suspected ISIS related accounts between April 2014 and January 2015.

They’ve also updated their policy to prohibit “promoting violence against others,” and already had a policy against “direct, specific threats of violence against others,” adding in December 2015 they they prohibit “hateful conduct.”

Twitter might get the case thrown out based on Section 230 of the CDA. If, however, Fields managed to win the case, we would see a change in how free speech plays out on Twitter and other major media providers, not only related to ISIS, but related to free expression in general.

Source: Fast Company

Photo courtesy of Twitter



 

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