News / USA

    US Widow's Lawsuit Says Twitter Gave Voice to IS

    FILE - A portrait of the Twitter logo in Ventura, California.
    FILE - A portrait of the Twitter logo in Ventura, California.
    Reuters

    The widow of an American killed in Jordan is suing Twitter Inc., accusing the social media company of giving a voice to the Islamic State group.

    Tamara Fields, a Florida woman whose husband, Lloyd, died in the November 9 attack on the police training center in Amman, said Twitter knowingly let the militant Islamist group use its network to spread propaganda, raise money and attract recruits.

    She said the San Francisco company had until recently given Islamic State, also known as ISIS or IS, an "unfettered" ability to maintain official Twitter accounts.

    "Without Twitter, the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most-feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible," according to the complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in Oakland, California.

    Fields accused Twitter of violating the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows triple damages for providing material support to terrorists. Her attorney said he thought the case was the first in which a social media company was accused of violating that federal law.

    The lawsuit may add to pressure that social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook Inc. face to take down posts associated with terrorist groups.

    "While we believe the lawsuit is without merit, we are deeply saddened to hear of this family's terrible loss," Twitter said in a statement about the civil lawsuit. "Violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that clear."

    US task force

    Last Friday, the Obama administration set up a task force to crack down on extremist groups using the Internet to advance their goals, find recruits and plan attacks such as recent killings in Paris and San Bernardino, California.

    Senior national security officials from the administration also met with technology executives in Silicon Valley last week to discuss what more could be done to counter Islamist militants.

    Fields, the widow, may face an uphill battle to prove Twitter knew or should have known that its technology was helping terrorists.

    "We certainly know social media plays an important role in allowing ISIS to recruit foreign fighters," said Jimmy Gurule, a University of Notre Dame law professor and former U.S. Treasury Department official specializing in terrorist financing. "But at the end of the day, is there a sufficient nexus between ISIS's use of Twitter and acts of terror? I'm not saying you can't show it, but it's a real challenge."

    Lloyd "Carl" Fields was among five people killed in the "lone wolf" attack at the police training center by Jordanian Police Officer Anwar Abu Zeid.

    The government contractor, who had been a police officer for a decade, was in Jordan to train police from that country, Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

    Legal strategy

    Joshua Arisohn, a partner at Bursor & Fisher representing Tamara Fields, said his client could prevail by showing that Twitter's activity was a substantial factor in her late husband's death, and that the death could have been foreseen.

    "Given the significant support that Twitter has knowingly provided to ISIS over the years, we're confident that we can meet this standard," Arisohn said in an email.

    Islamic State, which controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, has used the Internet regularly to spread its message. The Brookings Institution think tank has estimated that Islamic State supporters operated at least 46,000 Twitter accounts between September and December 2014.

    Social media companies are not uniform in handling requests from authorities to take down online material. Some technology executives worry that being too quick to remove suspect posts could invite endless and often meritless demands for takedowns.

    Twitter has positioned itself as a defender of free speech and has been reluctant to act as censor.

    According to its online "transparency report," Twitter honored none of the 25 requests from U.S. government and law enforcement authorities to remove posts between January and June 2015.

    Worldwide, Twitter said it honored 42 percent of the 1,003 removal requests from governments, law enforcement and courts during that period.

    More than two-thirds of the requests came from Turkey. Twitter said it withheld 158 accounts and 2,354 tweets during the period.

    Nothing 'hateful'

    In December, Twitter updated its policies for policing content to explicitly prohibit "hateful conduct."

    Gary Osen, a lawyer who in 2014 persuaded a Brooklyn, New York, jury to hold Jordan's Arab Bank Plc liable for handling transactions for Palestinian militant group Hamas, said there is "no question" the Anti-Terrorism Act covers Fields' claims, but that showing Twitter's "knowledge or willful blindness" is the challenge.

    Fields said she met that standard, citing Twitter's alleged resistance to numerous requests from U.S. government officials, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and others to do more to keep Islamic State off Twitter.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora