http://www.digitaljournal.com/internet/families-of-orlando-victims-suing-google-facebook-and-twitter/article/482148

Families of Orlando victims suing Google, Facebook and Twitter

Posted Dec 21, 2016 by Arthur Weinreb
Families of three men killed in the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last June are suing Facebook, Twitter and Google (as the owner of YouTube). The suit alleges the defendants gave material support to ISIS by enabling the shooter to become radicalized online.
Investigators work at the Pulse nightclub June 13  2016 in Orlando  Florida
Investigators work at the Pulse nightclub June 13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida
Brendan Smialowski, AFP
The lawsuit was filed Monday in Federal Court in Michigan’s eastern district. The suit was filed by the families of Juan Ramon Guerrero, Javier Jorge-Reyes and Tevin Crosby. The three men were among the 49 people killed in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016. Another 53 people were injured when they were shot by Omar Mateen, 29. Mateen, who was shot to death by police, claimed he was killing people in the gay nightclub on behalf of the Islamic State (ISIS).
The evidence gathered in the case shows Mateen never formally joined the Islamic State. He only pledged allegiance to the terrorist organization after becoming radicalized. Lawyer Keith Altman, who is representing the families said if you take online radicalization out of the equation, Mateen would not have done what he did.
But as the Orlando Sentinel reports, although it is known Mateen watched beheading videos and searched the Internet for references to ISIS while in then nightclub, it is not known if he went on the social media sites named in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the Islamic State used the defendants in order to not only spread their propaganda but to recruit people like the 29-year-old. Altman said the three companies connect advertising with content and therefore should be held liable for postings on their sites. Altman claims as a result of this advertising, ISIS profited from their postings on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The terrorist group received a share of the revenue collected by the defendants and therefore the companies should be held liable for the consequences of the postings.
Altman also said he thinks the public will not tolerate these companies “taking a laissez-faire attitude anymore.”
This is not the first lawsuit of its kind to be launched by Altman. The attorney sued the same companies on behalf of the family of an American who was killed in the 2015 terrorist attack in Paris. That case is still before the courts.
There is some doubt this suit can succeed. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 provides protection for online companies that publish the words and works of others. The Act says companies such as Google, Twitter and Facebook are not responsible for what appears on their sites. Their only responsibility is to have a policy regarding acceptable content and to act whenever complaints about violations of these policies are made.
J.M. Berger who is with the Center for Counter-Terrorism thinks the suit will be dismissed. He likened holding these social media companies liable to holding a telephone company responsible because someone used their telephone service to hire a contract killer.
Altman hopes to be able to get around this limitation by arguing the Communications Decency Act does not apply because the content is merged with advertising, allowing ISIS to benefit financially from the content they post.
The lawsuit does not specify an amount of damages the families are seeking.