Ridiculous Lawsuit Looks To Hold Social Media Companies Responsible For The San Bernandino Shooting

from the blame-game,-but-with-civil-judgments! dept

This hasn’t worked yet, but that’s not going to keep anyone from giving it another try. Excolo Law, representing victims of the San Bernardino attacks (and others in similar lawsuits), is suing Twitter, Facebook, and Google for [sigh] “knowingly and recklessly” supporting terrorism.

The lawsuit, like others before it, claims the social media platforms aren’t doing enough to prevent terrorists from using them for communication, not taking down reported posts fast enough, and otherwise making the world a more dangerous place simply by offering their services.

Section 230 is the bar litigants have to clear before holding social media platforms accountable for the actions of their users. This hasn’t happened yet, despite the suits being lobbed in California federal courts where some dubious 230 decisions have been handed down.

But try they will. Repeatedly. The lawsuit claims that if these three internet giants hadn’t existed, the “most feared terrorist group in the world” would not have experienced as much growth as it has. Maybe so, but if it wasn’t these three companies, it would just be other communications platforms being dragged into court — third parties several steps removed from the underlying tragedies.

The lawsuit goes so far as to allege the perpetrators wouldn’t have carried out the San Bernardino shooting if Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube hadn’t existed. From the lawsuit [PDF]:

Farook and Malik were radicalized by ISIS’ use of social media. This was the stated goal of ISIS. Farook and Mateen then carried out the deadly attack in San Bernardino…

But for ISIS’ postings using Defendants’ social media platforms, Farook and Malik would not have engaged in their attack on the Inland Regional Center.

OK, then.

There’s not anything new is this filing, the third by Excolo. I assume the firm will keep recruiting litigants and filing doomed lawsuits until its gathered enough dismissals to reach a cost/benefit tipping point. As always, the incidents underlying the suits are undeniably tragic. But that doesn’t make suing third parties for other people’s posts and communications any more correct than it does when nothing more than someone’s allegedly-damaged reputation is on the line.


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Companies: facebook, google, twitter, youtube

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Comments on “Ridiculous Lawsuit Looks To Hold Social Media Companies Responsible For The San Bernandino Shooting”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

If at first you don’t succeed try try again… to make bank off of grieving people by suing those with the deepest pockets when you know you haven’t a chance in hell.

One would think after a while a bar would be embarrassed to allow these types of lawyers to file frivolous cases to pocket retainers & exploit people. But then they are lawyers too, and have little motivation to actually hold themselves accountable.

Anonymous Coward says:

But for ISIS’ postings using Defendants’ social media platforms, Farook and Malik would not have engaged in their attack on the Inland Regional Center

This is true. And if it were not for Apple/Samsung et al., they wouldn’t have mobile phones to access said platforms. And if it were not for Microsoft/IBM et al. they wouldn’t have computers to access said services. If it were not for TSM/Intel et al. they would not have any digital devices at all. If it were not for At&T et al. they would not have the ability to communicate faster than letters. If it were not for Ford/Boeing et al, those letters would need to travel by ship/horse to get anywhere. If it were not for Dow/Dupont et al, they wouldn’t have explosive chemicals to use to attack people and would need to use swords. And if it weren’t for Nucor et al, they wouldn’t have metals to use in said weapons and would need to use wooden clubs. And if it weren’t for Dow/Dupont/Monsanto/Acher Daniels Midland/Caterpillar they’d have to spend all their time in the fields growing food, rather than planning attacks. And if were not for Pfizer/Merck et al, they would have died from Polio/Smallpox/Cholera/Dysentery/Bacterial infections/whatever as children along with their victims and yourself.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Just Checking

Those manufacturing and selling the guns still bear no responsibility, right….?

Not that I think they should, but their connection is at least as relevant as that of social media. The right to freely communicate (without being held responsible for someone else’s crimes) is at least as important as the right to bear arms (without being held responsible for someone else’s crimes).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Just Checking

Sorry, it was not me intention to stand in opposition to your point, I do agree with that.

Just stating that it will not stop them from trying anyways.

People want someone to blame, regardless of actual guilt. There is a primal driving need to see SOMETHING done, even if whatever is done is corrupt or tyrannically foisted upon the innocent.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Just Checking

That’s a real problem. However, guns and social media are different things. While the manufacturer has nothing to do with who ultimately buys a gun, the seller or retailer totally does. I just wish they’d restrict sales to sane, law-abiding citizens, that’s all.

Social media has a variety of other uses so this is not an apples-and-oranges comparison unless you shoot at people to communicate with them.

My_Name_Here says:

Re: Just Checking

You are correct, but there is a very huge difference at play here: control.

A gun manufacture does not have control of a weapon after they sell it. They are hands off after the transaction. There is nothing that a gun maker can do post sale to stop illegal use of the weapon. (some will argue that they could do more before the sale, but that’s for a different day)

Facebook? Twitter? They remain in control of their product, which they constantly update. They can (and often do) choose what appears on your timeline, who has an account, and such. FB and Twitter both regularly cancel / shut down / delete accounts for various reasons at their discretion.

Therefore, this isn’t an equal legal standing.

Nice try, but it’s not right.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Just Checking

You’re half right; gun control is a different thing.

Facebook and Twitter can’t be reasonably asked to control every single item that goes up because people like me upload many items per session. I tweet every few minutes while I’m on, sharing links and images I find interesting. Now multiply that by multiple millions. The answer would be to find a way to control users so they don’t upload undesirable content. Good luck with that.

NaBUru38 (profile) says:

Several criminals communicate using mail. How can FedEx and DHL allow them to do that? They should inspect every letter and package to see if there is any suspicious message or content.

Several criminals use cars and motorcycles to do their stuff. How can vehicle manufacturers, fuel stations and toll boothsallow it? THey should inspect every passenger to make sure that there’s no suspect using their services.

stephen.hutcheson@gmail.com says:

I hold the schools responsible. If these malicious morons hadn’t been taught to read, they wouldn’t have been able to use Facebook to contact other malicious morons. They’d have had to walk–or crawl–to the nearest FBI office or other ISIS recruiting center. And that would have been too much effort.

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