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Facebook Sued Again For 'Material Support' Of Terrorism, Because Hamas Uses Facebook

from the not-how-it-works dept

This is becoming quite the stupid trend: people who are true victims of terrorist attacks suing internet platforms because terror-associated groups are using those platforms generally. It began back in January, when a woman sued Twitter after her husband was apparently killed in an ISIS attack. The lawsuit made no connection between the use of Twitter and the attack. It's just "husband died in ISIS attack" and "ISIS people use Twitter." The judge in that case is not at all impressed and it seems likely to dismiss the case shortly. In the meantime, another similar case was filed against Twitter, Facebook and Google.

And now... we've got a third such case filed against Facebook and asking for a billion dollars. A billion dollars. The lawsuit was filed by the families of some people who were killed in a Hamas attack. And the entire complaint is basically "Hamas killed these guys, Hamas uses Facebook, give us a billion dollars." It goes through a variety of stories, each involving Hamas or Hamas-affiliated attacks, without any actual connection to Facebook, other than "and they also used Facebook to celebrate." Here's just one example of a bunch:
Yes, the situation is horrifying and awful. No doubt about that. But blaming Facebook for it is idiotic... and also likely to go absolutely nowhere. Facebook is clearly protected by Section 230 of the CDA and it would be amazing if a court didn't toss this lawsuit very quickly. And, yes, obviously it's absolutely horrible if your family member is killed in a terrorist event. I'm sure I'd be distraught and angry and many other feelings that I can't begin to imagine. But lashing out at various neutral social media platforms is just ridiculous. It stinks of being a Steve Dallas lawsuit in which lawyers decide to sue tangentially related companies because that's where the money is.
Meanwhile, Hamas is already claiming that this lawsuit is proof that the US is fighting against "freedom of the press and expression." Of course, that assumes that the lawsuit will actually go anywhere, which seems ridiculously unlikely. Terrorist attacks are a real problem. Suing Facebook or other social media platforms isn't going to help one bit.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 8:41am

    1st Rule of Emotions...

    Never expect anything intelligent to come of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 8:45am

    I feel sorry for those people, and I can undertand their anger. However I do not understand the lawyers that support them in undetaking these lawsuites, they are feeding off of other peoples grief and anger for their own benefit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 9:00am

    Regardless of what you think about whether the Israelis or the Palestinians or both have legitimate grievances towards the others, allowing this lawsuit to proceed would open up to a lawsuit any corporation or social media platform that allows anyone to open an account.

    This also sounds like the same logic employed in the argument that Google can magically remove all infringing content from the internet.

    I didn't read through the entire lawsuit, but I'm guessing it doesn't illustrate how Facebook is supposed to know that the account users in question are actually Hamas or perpetrators of the referenced acts. I highly doubt Facebook is going to send agents to meet with Hamas to verify the identities and political affiliations of the account users.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 3:52pm

      Re:

      It's worse than that. The connection is so tenuous that if this lawsuit wins, it would open up equally tenuous connections.

      Oh, you live in the same town as a Hamas bomber? You must be liable, have a lawsuit!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 12 Jul 2016 @ 9:02am

    It's sad what happened to those people. What's even sadder are the families trying to capitalize on these horrible events. And even worse are the lawyers that take advantage, IMHO, of people in their time of grieving. I'd love to know if and when they lose, if the lawyers were doing it for free? Or are the families not only experiencing the loss of loved ones, but will now be on the hook for liars fees as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Avatar28 (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 9:14am

      Re:

      My guess would be that like most personal injury lawyers they are working for free in hopes of getting a cut of any eventual winnings. It's usually a third so the law firm would get $333 million, quite a nice payday.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 9:21am

        Re: Re:

        In other words, they are hoping that facebook will settle out of court, for their fees, so their clients get the satifaction of extracting money from facebook, without actually seeing a penny of it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 9:10am

    I've seen pictures of Isis using Toyota trucks to transport weapons and terrorists. Sue Toyota?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 4:06pm

      The press attempted public shaming for that…

      …but it didn't stick because most of those trucks were stolen
      and customers didn't tell Toyota that they were terrorists. ‌ ;]

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 9:39am

    "Something bad happened to someone I know, give me money."

    Yeah, it may not be 'fair', but when I see demands for a billion dollars I'm thinking this has nothing to do with lashing out in grief(which while wrong would be at least somewhat understandable), and everything to do with using dead friends and family as a quick way to make a buck(which is anything but understandable). Whether it's greed on the part of the people filing the lawsuit, or thanks to getting absolutely terrible advice from seriously sleazy lawyers looking for an 'easy' paycheck, actions like this strike me as more greed than grief.

    I can sympathize with those that lose friends and family to a pack of assholes, but when they then turn around and try to shake down a third-party for ludicrous amounts of money my sympathy tends to disappear rather quick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 10:18am

      Re: "Something bad happened to someone I know, give me money."

      Come on, think bigger.

      CNN, Fox, NBC, for reporting on terrorist attacks.

      Al Jazeera for broadcasting their videos.

      Sony/Panasonic/Nikon/Canon for manufacturing cameras without a "Terrorism Content Blocker"

      Dow Corning, for making fiber optic cable that enables the Internet to work.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 9:49am

    A beeellion dollars puhllease.

    While I do sympathize with the losses to any time of extremism (religious in this case), the ones that are filling these cases sound like they are just trying to exploit the loss to get some easy money. At least if you ask for a billion dollars you are just full of bullshit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Norahc, 12 Jul 2016 @ 9:56am

    Wrong defendants

    Maybe it's about time the families of the victims start suing those actually responsible...like Hamas, IS, etc.

    Or would that make too much sense?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 10:05am

      Re: Wrong defendants

      It would and it wouldn't make more sense.

      In would in the sense that the dingle-berries going around killing people are the ones actually responsible for the injuries and deaths, it wouldn't in the sense that said dingle-berries are absolutely not the types who would either show up in court, or pay money to people trying to sue them.

      As far as punishing those responsible, while completely absurd it would at least make more sense to sue those actually responsible, but as far as trying to make a quick buck/billion it makes much more sense to sue a large company that had nothing to do with it beyond 'bad people use the service'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 10:00am

    The case has already gone somewhere

    Of course, that assumes that the lawsuit will actually go anywhere, which seems ridiculously unlikely.
    Yes, but it already has gone somewhere: the people have hired lawyers, the lawyers have filed a case, and the case has made its way into the media.
    Like with similar lawsuits, who are the lawyers that are taking these cases? Don't they know that can't win? Is the 1% chance of winning and getting $1 billion decision (or a higher chance to settle) really worth their time and effort to start a case like this?
    And what happens if the 1% chance of winning comes true and a judge decides that every social media platform is liable for anything that happens on the site? Or do these lawyers not care that the case will set this kind of precedent?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 10:10am

      "Who cares about the damage, I got paid!"

      Like with similar lawsuits, who are the lawyers that are taking these cases? Don't they know that can't win? Is the 1% chance of winning and getting $1 billion decision (or a higher chance to settle) really worth their time and effort to start a case like this?

      Actually winning is the unlikely jackpot option, the real goal I imagine is to pressure the companies to settle out of court for less in order to avoid the mess that would be going to court. if they're getting paid a percentage of winnings/settlement money then it's a chance for a large, easy paycheck, if not then win or lose they're still getting paid, so why do they care?

      Or do these lawyers not care that the case will set this kind of precedent?

      The kind of lawyer willing to take these kinds of cases is the same kind that would absolutely love to have that precedent set, as it would mean a whole slew of cases/money their way by people looking to make a quick buck by suing a company/service.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 10:39am

    i read somewhere that, as a child, bin ladin got presents from santa.

    bomb the north pole?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 10:43am

    Question about Section 230

    I have a legal question. And no, I am not trolling.

    Since Facebook edits and removes certain posts for violating "Community Guidelines" does that mean they are not protected by Section 230? Is there a chance the plaintiffs bringing the suit could win on Sec 230 grounds, as Facebook is capable of filtering and removing certain posts?

    They will probably win on plain First Amendment grounds anyway, but I was curious as to the legal protections of 230.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 11:00am

      Re: Question about Section 230

      Since Facebook edits and removes certain posts for violating "Community Guidelines" does that mean they are not protected by Section 230?



      Moderating, editing and/or deleting comments DOES NOT remove a website's Section 230 Safe Harbor protection whatsoever:

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140317/10060326596/why-moderating-comments-doesnt-rem ove-section-230-protection-why-more-lawyers-need-to-understand-this.shtml

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Richard (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 3:37am

        Re: Re: Question about Section 230

        Moderating, editing and/or deleting comments DOES NOT remove a website's Section 230 Safe Harbor protection whatsoever:

        True as a general statement - but when Facebook permits terrorist to use their services freely but then acts in an extremely censorious way towards those who most strongly oppose them
        (See http://www.faithfreedom.org/facebook-is-enforcing-islamic-blasphemy-laws/ )
        then you begin to wonder whose side they are actually on. At some point down that road they DO become liable. I don't think they are near that point yet but it could in principle happen.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 11:08am

      Re: Question about Section 230

      No, and in fact as I understand it that was almost the entire point of 230, as before that any site/service wouldn't dare interfere with the content posted on their site by users since doing so would show that they were involved in said content, and thus were responsible for it.

      Before, it was all-or-nothing, either they don't touch the content at all or they carefully go over all of it, the law was changed such that they could safely remove or moderate some content without having to worry about being held responsible for all of it as a result.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Richard (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 3:52am

        Re: Re: Question about Section 230

        Before, it was all-or-nothing, either they don't touch the content at all or they carefully go over all of it, the law was changed such that they could safely remove or moderate some content without having to worry about being held responsible for all of it as a result.

        Of course there is a phrase in the law "in good faith". So I would assume that a site that pretended to be an open forum - but in fact acted specifically as a terrorist recruiting operation - and which systematically deleted posts critical of terrorist ideology could at some point become liable.

        (Having said that I just realised that such a site would most likely be being run by the FBI as a sting operation...)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 11:06am

    Ah, yes, Doonsbury, very good, veddy good, most excellent sir...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 12 Jul 2016 @ 12:28pm

    If A Social Media Service Can Be Sued Over Giving Access To Hamas ...

    ... it can be sued over giving access to Israel, too.

    By all means, establish the precedent, why don’t you.

    Unless, of course, it turns out there’s a double standard at play in the US...

    ...but then, why would I think that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    David (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 1:50pm

    Wonder where they got the legal advice?

    Considering the sum I'm suspecting Oracle or its lawyers of equally low quality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MrTroy (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 7:30pm

    Everything is relative

    Terrorist attacks are a real problem.


    Yeah, but are they really? It seems to me that the reaction to terrorist attacks and the threat of terrorist attacks is a much bigger problem than the attacks themselves.

    If most of the time and resources that are currently allocated to "stopping terrorism" were instead redirected to bringing everyone to a living wage and basic education (globally, if possible)... then not only would it be more effective at reducing terrorism (IMO), but it is also likely to reduce pedestrian crime... and just be kinda nice.

    But I won't hold my breath.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 4:06am

      Re: Everything is relative

      It seems to me that the reaction to terrorist attacks and the threat of terrorist attacks is a much bigger problem than the attacks themselves.

      Yes, as is well known in Chess and similar games " a threat is stronger than its execution"
      That is sort of the whole point of terrorism.

      If most of the time and resources that are currently allocated to "stopping terrorism" were instead redirected to bringing everyone to a living wage and basic education (globally, if possible)

      I used to think that, and I'd still like to think that, but Osama Bin Laden was a well educated multi millionaire and most of those who go to fight for ISIS come from the educated middle class. Unfortunately we also have to do a job of ideological opposition - just as we did against Nazism and Communism.

      In fact the rise of Islamic terrorism is caused by wealth not poverty. We need to stop flattering the wealthy states which promote an ideology that is hard to distinguish from that of the terrorists.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 9:15pm

    what if the blame at social media were replaced with something else

    By that same logic, we should sue gun manufacturers every time one of their firearms are used to kill an innocent victim.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 5:32am

      Re: what if the blame at social media were replaced with something else

      By that same logic, we should sue gun manufacturers every time one of their firearms are used to kill an innocent victim.

      Already the plot of a movie.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaway_Jury

      and actually it would be a good idea, then there would be some positive control.

      You Americans have far too many guns anyway.

      There are roughly 3x as many gun deaths in the US as road accident deaths in the UK per 100,000 population.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TRX (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 8:15am

    They should also sue "the Phone Company" (all of them) and "the Post Office" (all of them, where different from the Phone Company), the governments that own the Post Offices (where not privatized), and "the internet", if they can find it...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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