By Quandary Peak Research
An appeals court ruled in agreement with a lower court in January 2018 that Twitter was not liable for the deaths of two American military contractors, killed by a terrorist in Jordan in 2015. The ruling is the latest repudiation of the notion that social media services are willingly providing support to international terrorist groups – the court ruling says they’re not.
Lloyd “Carl” Fields Jr. and James Creach were among multiple victims shot and killed by a Jordanian police captain-turned-terrorist at a training center for law enforcement in Amman, where Fields and Creach were working as military contractors. The lawsuit, brought by the estates of both victims, alleged that Twitter violated the Anti-Terrorism Act, having for years “knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use its social network as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds, and attracting new recruits.”
The Brookings Institute released research in 2015 that, for the first time, cataloged and profiled ISIS-supporting Twitter accounts. The research indicated a minimum of 46,000 ISIS-supporting Twitter accounts and pegged the maximum at 70,000. While the findings acknowledged Twitter was actively suspending pro-ISIS accounts, the study “saw evidence of potentially thousands more.”
Pro-ISIS users account for a modicum of Twitter’s overall user base, but they have a propensity for reaching exponentially larger numbers of people by going viral. The Brookings report indicated that the high rate of tweets from between 500 to 2,000 ISIS-related accounts “…drives the success of ISIS’s efforts to promulgate its message on social media…short, prolonged bursts of activity cause hashtags to trend, resulting in third-party aggregation and insertion of tweeted content into search results.”
A Look at the Litigation
Fields v. Twitter has been dismissed twice; it was initially heard by a US District Judge in August 2016. In neither instance did the […]