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Despite that social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google have long spoken against the use of their platforms for spreading violent extremism, the companies were sued this week for allegedly accelerating the rapid rise of the Daesh extremist group, also known as ISIS/the Islamic State.
Reynaldo Gonzalez, father of American national Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in the 2015 Paris attacks, on Tuesday accused the corporations of "providing material support for terrorism." According to the plaintiff, the companies “purposefully, knowingly or with willful blindness” allowed militants to use their networks, while preparing for bloodbath attacks in France that killed over 130 people last November.
The lawsuit suggests that Daesh has used social media for the last few years to distribute propaganda, raise money and recruit members.
For instance, the leader of Daesh’ British division, Omar Hussain, was spotted by media recruiting members through Facebook. Google’s YouTube has been used for posting videos of brutal Daesh executions. In another case, Daesh sympathizers posted to Twitter images of murdered soldiers with the hashtag #AMessagefromISIStoUS.
Tech companies are sued often for alleged associations with terrorism. Responding to increasing challenges, the social media corporations consistently attempt to prevent their platforms from being used to promote terrorism. As a result, Facebook, Twitter and Google have tightened their rules regarding the violent and graphic content extremists ordinary post to social media.
“Anyone can report terrorist accounts or content to us, and our global team responds to these reports quickly around the clock," Facebook spokesperson said. "If we see evidence of a threat of imminent harm or a terror attack, we reach out to law enforcement. This lawsuit is without merit and we will defend ourselves.”
Twitter claims to have shut down some 125,000 Daesh-linked accounts up to February, according to a blog, but the company is being sued for the second time in a year.
“We have teams around the world actively investigating reports of rule violations, identifying violating conduct, and working with law enforcement entities when appropriate. We believe this lawsuit is without merit,” a Twitter spokesperson said to International Business Times.
Many believe that the companies should contribute more to security by opening access for governments to users’ private data. Following the December 2015 San Bernardino shootings, the US House of Representatives passed a bill demanding more scrutiny into terrorism on the internet.
Tech companies claim that such a scenario will lead to more insecurity in social media. This time they have fought back, appealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, that web-based hosts are not responsible for the content posted by users.
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