Federal judge dismisses lawsuit alleging Twitter provided support to Islamic State

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Source: The Washington Post

By Derek Hawkins

American security contractors Lloyd Fields and James Creach were working at a police training facility in Amman, Jordan, in November 2015 when a trainee shot and killed them with a smuggled assault rifle.

The Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement, the terror group’s media arm called the shooter a “lone wolf” for the aspiring caliphate, and warned that “time will turn thousands of supporters on Twitter and others into wolves.”

It’s no secret that the Islamic State relies heavily on Twitter to recruit fighters and spread propaganda. And for the families of the two slain contractors, the group’s statement was confirmation that the company should be held liable for the men’s deaths. The families sued Twitter earlier this year, claiming that the company provided material support to the Islamic State that paved the way for the deadly shooting.

But a federal judge isn’t convinced.

In a ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick of California dismissed the suit, saying a federal law known as the Communications Decency Act, or CDA, protects Twitter from liability but left the door open for the families to refile their case.

“As horrific as these deaths were, under the CDA Twitter cannot be treated as a publisher or speaker of ISIS’s hateful rhetoric and is not liable under the facts alleged,” Orrick wrote, using an acronym for the militant group.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs and Twitter didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the ruling.

Twitter and other social media companies have faced mounting pressure recently to crack down on users with apparent ties to the Islamic State. Twitter responded earlier this year, removing some 26,000 suspected pro-Islamic State accounts, according to a Wall Street Journal and Recorded Future Inc. analysis released in April.

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