On Thursday, a federal judge in New York dismissed two lawsuits that sought to hold Facebook liable for allegedly providing a platform for terrorists.
The case was brought by two groups of plaintiffs, one a group of 20,000 Israeli citizens who say they fear terrorist violence. The second is a group of victims and victims' relatives of past terrorist attacks by Hamas, who were looking for $1 billion in damages.
The lawsuit alleged that a wave of violence that occurred in Israel in 2015 was encouraged and coordinated by Facebook accounts linked to Hamas.
However, US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn dismissed both lawsuits. He said the first group failed to state a concrete, "non-speculative future harm," and their case is based on "multiple conjectural leaps," particularly regarding the assumption that they will be the victims of some as-yet unknown terrorist attack.
Dismissing the lawsuit by the victims of terror and their relatives, the judge also said that the federal Communications Decency Act regulating internet content gives Facebook immunity from being held liable for content posted by third parties.
Robert Tolchin, an attorney from Berkman Law Office who represented both sets of the plaintiffs, told Radio Sputnik that his team is filing an appeal because the US federal Communications Decency Act should not give Facebook global immunity.
"The court applied Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, that's a United States statute passed by the United States Congress that says that Facebook or any social media platform shouldn't be considered the published or the speaker of any material that somebody posts on the platform," Tolchin explained.
"Hamas terrorists are being recruited by [the] Hamas organization, they're talking about how to do terrorist attacks, they're inciting people to do terrorist attacks. Somebody goes out on the street in Jerusalem and stabs somebody and yet the court just said that Facebook is protected for what took place in Israel by a law in the US," Tolchin protested.
"That seems very strange to us, why does that law apply to something that took place entirely outside the US. We say that the law of Israel should apply and if Facebook doesn't like that, well who says they have to do business outside the US?"
"Our case is about Facebook providing a communications platform. What would it cost Hamas to set up a communications platform to communicate with all its operatives and get its propaganda out and send out its videos?" Tolchin said.
"Facebook is completely irresponsible in how it allows its services to be used not only by Hamas but by many other violent groups. Even ISIS [Daesh] is, famously, using Facebook and Twitter, that's their way to promote themselves."
"I want to give you a comparison. As I'm sure you're aware, there's a big problem in the world with child pornography and you can imagine what would happen to the reputation of Facebook if Facebook was filled with child pornography pictures. They would be out of business, nobody would tolerate that and they would all be going to jail," Tolchin said.
"Let me tell you this – Facebook and all the social media platforms got together and they created a database. Whenever somebody posts a picture that would be classified as child pornography it gets reported and flagged and removed, [and then] that picture goes into a database. If anybody ever tries to post that picture again on any platform, they will not even be able to post it."
"They could use the same database. When you take down a picture because it shows an Arab stabbing a Jew, why not put that picture in the database?" Tolchin asked.
"If anyone tries to post it again, it doesn't even go up. When you take down a page because it contains incitement, why do you allow that person to post another page? Why do you allow other postings from that IP address, why don't you check? That's my question for Facebook."
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