High court to hear social media terrorism lawsuits, including one involving death of CSULB student – Orange County Register

Lawsuits aimed at framing social media companies financially for terrorist attacks, including one involving the 2015 terrorist death of a Cal State Long Beach student, are being taken up by the US Supreme Court.

The cases – which the Supreme Court announced it would take on Monday, October 3 – could provide historic tests for a federal law that generally exempts internet companies from liability for the material their users post.

The lawsuits, filed independently two years apart, mark the court’s first significant backlash against the broad immunity social media companies enjoy under a provision called Section 230, part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Section 230 has become a target for Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, who say it allows left-leaning tech companies to censor right-wing voices.

In the cases, relatives of people killed in terrorist attacks in France and Turkey had sued Google, Twitter and Facebook. They accused the companies of helping terrorists spread their message and radicalizing new recruits. One of the cases was dismissed, primarily under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, while the other was allowed to proceed.

One of the cases involves Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old US citizen studying in Paris.

The Cal State Long Beach student and El Monte resident was one of 130 people killed in November 2015 attacks by the Islamic State group in Paris and the nearby suburb of Saint-Denis. The attackers attacked cafes in front of the French national stadium and inside the Bataclan theater.

Gonzalez died in an attack at La Belle Equipe bistro. She was the only American to die in the Paris attacks.

A senior majoring in industrial design, she was one of 17 students from Cal State Long Beach who attended the Strate College of Design in Paris as part of a study abroad program.

The Gonzalez family filed a lawsuit against Google, Facebook, and Twitter in US District Court in Northern California in 2015, accusing the three companies of using their social networks “as a tool to spread extremist propaganda, raise funds, and recruit new recruits.” to have .”

The family argued that the social media giants helped ISIS and other groups by allowing them to use their channels to recruit members and coordinate attacks.

Two lower courts sided with Google and said the lawsuit should be dismissed. However, a federal appeals court overturned a judge’s decision to drop the case against Twitter — but did not rule specifically on Twitter’s claim for Section 230 immunity.

Courts have interpreted Section 230 as immunizing computer services when engaged in activities traditionally performed by publishers, such as B. the decision whether to display or edit third-party content. But Gonzalez’s family has said referrals are another matter.

“Whether Section 230 applies to these algorithm-generated recommendations is of enormous practical importance,” the family argued in the complaint. “Interactive computing services constantly make such recommendations in one form or another to virtually every adult and child in the United States who uses social media.”

However, Google has said that at the time of the attack, YouTube was using a sidebar tool to queue videos based on user input, including browsing history. The company said the only alleged link between the Paris attacker and YouTube was that an attacker was an active user of the video-sharing service and once appeared in an ISIS propaganda video.

“This court should not lightly adopt a reading of Section 230 that would jeopardize the fundamental organizational choices of the modern internet,” Google argued.

A lawyer representing Nohemi Gonzalez’s father, Reynaldo Gonzalez, said the case is not about free speech, but about creating channels of communication that allow ISIS and other terrorist groups to plan, coordinate and execute terrorist attacks . The lawsuit also accused Google’s AdSense program, which allows YouTube users to share in revenue from ads posted alongside high-traffic videos, potentially resulting in Google making payments to ISIS.

The lawsuit cited a lengthy Brookings Institution report showing the extent to which ISIS used Twitter to send its propaganda out into the world and attract people potentially vulnerable to radicalization. The report estimates that as of December 2014, 46,000 Twitter accounts were being used by ISIS supporters.

“ISIS was able to exert an outsized impact on how the world perceives it by disseminating images of graphic violence,” according to the 2015 Brookings report, “while using social media to attract new recruits and perpetuate lone gunman attacks to inspire.”

The death of Gonzalez sent waves of sadness through the CSULB community.

“We miss her today and we will miss her forever,” CSULB President Jane Close Conoley said during her 2015 funeral at Calvary Chapel in Downey.

In 2017, the university’s design shop, which often served as a second home for the student, was dedicated to her name. Room 131 was the university’s first lecture hall to be named after a student.

The other case approved by the court concerns Jordanian citizen Nawras Alassaf. He died in the 2017 attack on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub, in which a gunman affiliated with the Islamic State killed 39 people.

Alassaf’s relatives sued Twitter, Google and Facebook for supporting terrorism, arguing that the platforms had helped Islamic State grow and had not gone far enough to curb terrorist activity on their platforms. A lower court allowed the case to continue.

In May 2020, the Supreme Court declined to hear a similar case, declining an appeal as to whether Section 230 protected Facebook from a lawsuit brought by US citizens injured in terrorist attacks in Israel, who accused the social network of Promote contributions from the terrorist group Hamas.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit previously ruled that Section 230 barred the lawsuit, but the court’s chief justice disagreed, criticizing the sweeping immunity the courts had granted internet companies and urging Congress to amend the law to change.

In March, Judge Clarence Thomas asked the court to consider a case concerning the “appropriate level of immunity” under the law in a joint trial.

“Assuming Congress does not intervene to clarify the scope of Section 230,” he wrote, “we should do so in an appropriate case.”

https://www.ocregister.com/2022/10/03/high-court-to-hear-social-media-terror-suits-including-one-involving-death-of-csulb-student/ High court to hear social media terrorism lawsuits, including one involving death of CSULB student – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

TheHitc is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@thehitc.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button