Shooter Omar Mateen killed 49 people in Orlando night club Pulse in June, and though many question his claimed allegiance to ISIS, some of the victim’s families are pursuing lawsuits against the companies they believe assisted in his radicalization.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that a lawsuit was filed Monday in a Michigan federal court on behalf of the families of Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes, and Juan Guerrero. The connection to Michigan comes from Crosby who was a Michigan native, and a sister of Jorge-Reyes, who also resides there. The suit targets Facebook, Twitter and Google, alleging that the companies have allowed the “Islamic State” to promote propaganda via their platforms:
In the lawsuit, Michigan attorney Keith Altman alleged that ISIS is “dependent of Twitter, YouTube [which Google owns] and Facebook to terrorize,” and that the group uses the social media platforms to recruit and spread its message.
“I think public opinion will simply not tolerate these companies taking this laissez-faire attitude anymore,” said Altman, of the firm 1-800-LAW-FIRM.
Online publishers are protected from being held responsible for user-generated content by Section 230 of the federal Communication Decency Act, but Altman argues that by pairing that content with advertisers, these companies are creating a new form of content for which they should be held accountable. USA Today reports that the lawsuit points out the financial benefit for companies:
“They create unique content by combining ISIS postings with advertisements in a way that is specifically targeted at the viewer,” the lawsuit alleges. “Defendants share revenue with ISIS for its content and profit from ISIS postings through advertising revenue.”
“Although defendants have not created the posting, nor have they created the advertisement, defendants have created new unique content by choosing which advertisement to combine with the posting,” the lawsuit contends.
A Facebook spokesperson, Genevieve Grdina, told the Sentinel that they do not allow users to post anything that advocates for terrorism. Grdina says, “We take swift action to remove this content when it’s reported to us,” adding, “We sympathize with the victims and their families.”
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in monetary damages, but Altman states that the money is not the primary issue for the families involved. He says, “This is about other families not having to bury their loved ones.”