Family members of two ISIS victims are asking an appellate court to reconsider its recent decision dismissing a lawsuit that sought to hold Twitter responsible for a November 2015 terrorist shooting.
"Without Twitter, 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 argue in papers filed Wednesday with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. "Twitter has played a key role in enabling ISIS to recruit new members, fundraise millions of dollars and spread its propaganda."
The lawsuit against Twitter, brought by the families of Lloyd "Carl" Fields, Jr. and James Damon Creach, alleged that the microblogging service supported ISIS by allowing members to create accounts. Fields and Creach were killed by a terrorist in Amman, Jordan more than two years ago.
Late last month, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the family members couldn't proceed because they didn't show a "direct relationship" between the service's acts and the shooting. "At most, the [complaint] establishes that Twitter’s alleged provision of material support to ISIS facilitated the organization’s growth and ability to plan and execute terrorist acts," the judges wrote.
The family members now argue that the judges incorrectly interpreted the federal Anti-Terrorism Act -- a law that prohibits anyone from knowingly providing material support to terrorists.
The families argue that judges in other courts have interpreted the act broadly. "These courts recognized that any provision of material support to terrorists leads to more terrorist attacks," the plaintiffs argue in papers filed last week. "They also understood that requiring a direct relationship between the provision of material support and a specific attack would create an insurmountably high bar to liability."
The decision to clear Twitter appeared to mark the first time an appellate court ruled on whether social media services can be sued for allegedly assisting terrorists. Twitter, Google and Facebook still face several other lawsuits by victims and their families in the trial courts.