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Orlando Nightclub Shooting: Families of Victims sue Facebook, Twitter, Google for allegedly providing “material support” to Islamic State (ISIS) Terrorist group

Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter said they would share a database of terror images and videos to quickly remove terrorism content

Social media sites. Pixabay

New York, Dec 20, 2016: Families of three victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting that left 50 dead and 53 wounded in June this year have sued tech giants Facebook, Google and Twitter for allegedly providing “material support” to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group and helping radicalise shooter Omar Mateen.

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According to a Fox News report, the lawsuit was filed in federal court in the eastern district of Michigan on Monday on behalf of the families of Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes and Juan Ramon Guerrero, stating that the three web platforms “provided the terrorist group IS with accounts they use to spread extremist propaganda, raise funds and attract new recruits.”

“Without Defendants Twitter, Facebook, and Google (YouTube), the explosive growth of IS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible,” Fox News cited the lawsuit as saying.

“They create unique content by combining IS postings with advertisements in a way that is specifically targeted at the viewer. Defendants share revenue with IS for its content and profit from IS postings through advertising revenue,” the lawsuit alleged.

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Investigation revealed that Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard who opened fire inside Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, was not a member of the terror group but had been inspired by it in part through what he saw on the internet.

An outpouring of anger toward the lax US gun control policy was witnessed on social media after the shooting — dubbed as the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history after it surpassed the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech which left 32 people dead.

Furious gun control supporters questioned why laws were still permitting people with radical thinking or mental illness to acquire assault weapons.

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Meanwhile, Keith Altman, the attorney representing the three families in the Orlando nightclub lawsuit, was quoted as saying that Facebook, Google and Twitter should be held liable for what users post on their services because they pair content with advertising.

Earlier this month, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter said they would share a database of terror images and videos to quickly remove terrorism content. (IANS)

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Parliamentary Committee To Summon WhatsApp, Facebook Besides Twitter

According to him, Twitter does not review, prioritise or enforce its policies on the basis of political ideology

WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Besides Twitter, the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology (IT) will also summon Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to hear them on alleged bias towards certain type of posts, panel chief Anurag Thakur said on Friday.

“The Parliamentary Committee on IT will examine the issue of ‘Safeguarding citizen rights on social/online news media platforms’,” tweeted Thakur, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha MP from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh.

“The following will present their positions: Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram,” he added.

Twitter has already confirmed that Colin Crowell, its global Vice President of Public Policy, would face the Parliamentary Committee on IT on February 25.

Twitter CEO
This April 26, 2017, photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. According to a study released Jan. 24, 2019, a tiny fraction of Twitter users spread the vast majority of fake news in 2016, with conservatives and older people sharing misinformation more. VOA

Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram top brass may be summoned in the first week of March.

In a statement given to IANS, the micro-blogging platform said the 2019 Lok Sabha election is a key priority for Twitter.

“We thank the Parliamentary Committee for its invitation to hear Twitter’s views on ‘Safeguarding citizen rights on social/online news media platforms’,” said a Twitter spokesperson.

“These are issues for all Internet services globally. Colin Crowell, global Vice President of Public Policy for Twitter, will meet with the Committee on Monday,” the spokesperson added.

The government has accused Twitter of being “slow” in removing “objectionable content” and “political bias” from its platform.

The House panel had earlier summoned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over measures taken to ensure the safety and security of the users and allegations that the social media site was discriminating against “nationalist” posts on its platform.

Facebook, data,photos
A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

In the absence of Dorsey, Crowell will represent Twitter during the 31-member parliamentary panel hearing.

In an earlier statement, Crowell said that India is one of its fastest-growing audience markets globally.

“We are committed to surfacing all sides of the conversation as we enter the election season in this extraordinarily diverse cultural, political and social climate,” noted Crowell.

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According to him, Twitter does not review, prioritise or enforce its policies on the basis of political ideology.

“Every tweet and every account is treated impartially. We apply our policies fairly and judiciously for all,” Crowell added.

The Twitter hearing comes at a time when the Indian government has also formulated new IT guidelines where social media platforms have to remove within 24 hours any unlawful content that can affect the “sovereignty and integrity of India.” (IANS)