The families of three of the victims of the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack are suing Google, Twitter and Facebook. A new lawsuit, filed in California, states that the three tech giants have allowed ISIS to build an online presence and gave the terror group a space to propagate their extremist beliefs on social media. The families of the San Bernardino victims say that the online presence of ISIS is what motivated the attackers, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik.
“Even if Farook and Malik had never been directly in contact with ISIS, ISIS’ use of social media directly influenced their actions on the day of the San Bernardino massacre,” the lawsuit said. The attorneys representing the families have publicly backed up the claims. “ISIS and other terrorist organizations rely upon social media in order to recruit, in order to conduct terrorist operations," said Keith Altman, one of the attorneys representing the families. "It is not really in dispute that this is what takes place.”
George Clayborn, whose daughter Sierra Clayborn was one of the victims, said that he feels social media allows "disenfranchised" people the opportunity to fall in with the wrong crowd. “A lot of people feel disenfranchised, a lot of people feel disconnected and so a lot of these people are, you know, they’re basically looking for something to do and ISIS is a way for them to get out there and get their name out there," said Clayborn.
While there are already protections in place for internet companies, like the Communications Decency Act, which states that the companies are not liable for content posted by their users, lawsuits like this are not uncommon. The same lawyers supporting the San Bernardino families have filed almost identical lawsuits in the past. In all cases, the tech companies have expressed their sympathies but denied liability and invoked immunity under the law.