Family members of three people killed by a terrorist in San Bernardino, California have sued Twitter, Facebook and Google for allegedly their platforms to be used for recruitment and fundraising by ISIS members.
"Without defendants Twitter, Facebook, and Google (YouTube), 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 family members allege in a complaint filed this week in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
The lawsuit was filed by relatives of Sierra Clayborn, Tin Nguyen, and Nicholas Thalasino -- three of the 14 people who were killed in the December 2015 shooting. "Twitter, Facebook and Google have "knowingly and recklessly provided the terrorist group ISIS with accounts to use its social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds, and attracting new recruits," the complaint alleges.
The platforms also allegedly profited from ISIS by surrounding terrorists' posts with ads, according to the complaint.
Tech companies have faced similar lawsuits before, but so far the cases haven't been successful. Twitter recently defeated a lawsuit brought by the widows of Lloyd “Carl” Fields, Jr. and James Damon Creach -- who were killed in 2015 by a terrorist in Amman, Jordan.
U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick in the Northern District of California ruled in that matter that the Communications Decency Act immunizes Twitter from liability based on users' activity. "In substance, plaintiffs aim to hold Twitter liable as a publisher or speaker of ISIS’s hateful rhetoric," Orrick wrote in a 19-page decision dismissing the case. "Such liability is barred by the CDA."
The family members have appealed the dismissal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Twitter, Google and Facebook also face a separate lawsuit brought by family members of three people killed in terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. That matter is pending in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu in Oakland, California.
The major tech platforms recently said they would cooperate in an effort to remove terrorist propaganda.