Federal lawsuit blames social media for San Bernardino attack

A federal lawsuit has been filed that blames social media for the San Bernardino massacre. (Screen capture: YouTube, ABC News, KERO)

A lawsuit filed Wednesday in a federal court in California by relatives of victims slain in the 2015 San Bernardino terror attack alleges that social media bears at least some responsibility for the massacre that left 14 people dead.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the lawsuit alleges Google, Facebook and Twitter for allowing the Islamic State spread its extremist agenda and attract recruits.

The lawsuit was filed in San Diego by family members of Nicholas Thalasinos, Sierra Clayborn and Tin Nguyen in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, NPR noted.

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The attack occurred at a gathering for county workers that was held in a so-called “gun-free” building. California makes it difficult for law-abiding citizens to get carry permits, but that didn’t stop the man-and-wife terror team from carrying out their Dec. 2 attack.

Fox News quoted the complaint submitted by attorneys Keith Altman and Theida Salazar that alleges, “For years, Defendants 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.”

A similar lawsuit has been filed by families of victims of terror attacks in Orlando and Dallas. The Orlando shooting was in June at The Pulse nightclub, and the Dallas attack that specifically targeted police officers happened in July.

The San Bernardino attack was the work of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. Both were killed a few hours later by police.

According to Fox News, there may be a problem for plaintiffs in the case: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996. That section states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Simply put, the story explains, social media sites such as Facebook are not liable for what users post.

Other lawsuits blaming social media have been unsuccessful, Fox News reported.

Still, these sites do take action against some users. They are also fighting the Orlando lawsuit.

The Pulse massacre last June took the lives of 49 people and left 53 others wounded. The gunman in that attack was identified as Omar Mateen.

The San Bernardino lawsuit alleges that ISIS could not have grown as rapidly without the popular social media sites. The terror organization allegedly recruits and raises funds using the three defendant social media sites.

However, based on recent past history, odds appear to be against the lawsuit’s success.


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