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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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 May 2017 @ 12:02pm

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2017 @ 3:39pm

      Re:

      "pocket retainers"

      Wait, I assumed this was a class action suit ... when did they start requiring retainers?

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 May 2017 @ 4:20pm

        Re: Re:

        When they knew they were filings crap cases that wouldn't let them pocket the lions share of the settlement.

        This isn't the first sue the platforms case and somehow they think they can hurdle the thing thats killed every other case.

        I would not be shocked that they are getting a nice fee to file pointless crap.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2017 @ 12:14pm

    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.

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

    • icon
      JP (profile), 10 May 2017 @ 1:22pm

      Re:

      You forgot the main driving force behind all of this. If it were not for the US government, ISIS wouldn't have the internet to recruit over. Hmmm ... actually if it were not of the government, there wouldn't be an ISIS either.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2017 @ 3:41pm

      Re:

      If not for Excolo Law there would be no ambulance chasers to file more frivolous ... oh wait, yes would.

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 10 May 2017 @ 12:15pm

    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).

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2017 @ 12:25pm

      Re: Just Checking

      Keep in mind, the same people that do want to hold gun mfgs responsible are the same type to have brought these types of lawsuits.

      Since suing mfgs are mostly settled case now, they are looking for new ways to accomplish their bullshit agendas.

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

      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 10 May 2017 @ 12:36pm

        Re: Re: Just Checking

        If true, my point still stands. If it's settled that gun manufacturers aren't responsible for policing the users of their products, then it should be easily be settled for social media.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2017 @ 12:40pm

          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.

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

          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 11 May 2017 @ 7:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 11 May 2017 @ 7:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just Checking

              So how does a store know that a person is SANE? Should they bring in a signed paper from a psychiatrist that they have to go to, to show that they are SANE?

              All the while the crazy's can just buy a gun on the street corner.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 11 May 2017 @ 9:12am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just Checking

                Do any laws state that gun ownership shall be allowed even when buyer has known mental issues?

                Has anyone with known mental issues ever done anything bad with a weapon?

                Back ground checks are supposed to screen such individuals, there are many loopholes.

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

                • identicon
                  Wendy Cockcroft, 12 May 2017 @ 2:28am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just Checking

                  Surely to goodness a psych evaluation ought to be mandatory? Production of a valid gun licence ought to be sufficient to permit a store owner to retail a gun to a customer.

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

                  • icon
                    Kevin (profile), 12 May 2017 @ 1:15pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just Checking

                    While requiring some sort of psych eval might sound attractive, take a look at the complaints against the system in parts of Rhode Island to see how this is abused.

                    Forget having a psychologist sign-off, I'd like to see a simple spelling test before people are issued a Twitter ID.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2017 @ 2:08pm

        Re: Re: Just Checking

        Not quite settled; The Sandy Hook inspired lawsuit against Remington Outdoor Co, thrown out at a lower lever last Oct, is now headed to the CT Supreme Court.

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

    • identicon
      My_Name_Here, 11 May 2017 @ 3:22am

      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.

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

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 12 May 2017 @ 2:31am

        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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2017 @ 1:24pm

    Vultures Need to Eat Too

    "...suing third parties for other people's posts and communications..."

    Steve Dallas would be proud.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2017 @ 1:47pm

    By the same logic, the victim's parents are at fault because if they hadn't had children, the terrorists wouldn't have had anyone to kill. And that sounds just as absurd as blaming social media.

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

  • icon
    NaBUru38 (profile), 10 May 2017 @ 2:46pm

    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.

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

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 10 May 2017 @ 2:52pm

    Argusably where social media ARE at fault

    Is the way that they take down content too easily.

    I'm much less worried by the way they allow islamic extremists to post stuff than by the way they shut down islam's opponents.

    https://heatst.com/culture-wars/exclusive-facebook-has-been-regularly-shutting-down-athei st-and-ex-muslim-groups/

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

    • icon
      afn29129 (profile), 10 May 2017 @ 3:44pm

      Re: Argusably where social media ARE at fault

      I'm an advocate for having a backup, or several backup, means for communications outside of socialmedia's control. Don't put all you eggs in one basket. direct email lists, IRC, etc.

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

      • icon
        Richard (profile), 11 May 2017 @ 4:33am

        Re: Re: Argusably where social media ARE at fault

        Yiu are right of course - and the groups in question do have other means - but still my point was that encouraging the service providers to censor things is likely to backfire because the means of triggering that censorship are equally available to the bad guys.

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

  • identicon
    stephen.hutcheson@gmail.com, 10 May 2017 @ 3:17pm

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2017 @ 3:47pm

    It's clearly Obama's fault, as he is the leader of ISIS - right? At least that is what someone tried to tell me last year, where did that guy go?

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

  • identicon
    Avideogameplayer, 10 May 2017 @ 4:15pm

    I'm gonna yell fire in a movie theatre and sue them for being there for me to do it...

    4. ???
    5. PROFIT!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2017 @ 8:32pm

    Between this and piracy complaints it seems like people think running a site means you're in the know about everything on it at all times.


    Who knew all you had to do to become a God was to make a user generated content platform?

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


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