US family files fresh lawsuit against Twitter for ‘promoting IS’

US family files fresh lawsuit against Twitter for ‘promoting IS’

New York, Aug 31 (IANS) In a fresh attempt to hold the micro-blogging site Twitter responsible for the proliferation of Islamic State (IS) via its platform, the family of US citizen Lloyd Fields who died in an IS attack in Jordan in 2015 has filed a revised version of their lawsuit.

On August 11, a judge dismissed the family’s lawsuit against Twitter that blamed the micro-blogging site for the rise of the IS terror group by providing “material support to IS” on its platform.

The judge had given the plaintiffs 20 days to file a new complaint.

In the new complaint, the plaintiffs argued that Twitter’s Direct Message Service is akin to providing the IS with physical communications equipment like a radio or a satellite phone, tech website The Verge reported on Wednesday.

“Giving IS the capability to send and receive Direct Messages in this manner is no different than handing it a satellite phone, walkie-talkies or the use of a mail drop all of which terrorists use for private communications in order to further their extremist agendas,” the new lawsuit read.

“The clearest legal distinction between a Twitter account and a satellite phone comes from the US Safe Harbor clause, which generally protects service providers from liability for data hosted on their network,” the report added.

The complaint had alleged widespread fundraising and recruitment through Twitter, attributing 30,000 foreign actors recruited through IS Twitter accounts in 2015 alone.

Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act is commonly known as the “Safe Harbor” clause.

The clause protects online services from liability for speech published on their network, like a libellous statement in the comments section of a news article.

The user who published the comment can still be held responsible but Section 230 prohibits legal action against the website itself.

The plaintiffs had argued Twitter was not covered by Section 230, adding that its continued provision of accounts to IS counted as an act of publishing or speech.

In its effort to curb terrorism-related activities, Twitter recently announced it has suspended an additional 235,000 accounts for violating its policies related to promotion of terrorism in the last six months.

Twitter had announced the blocking of more than 125,000 accounts earlier this year which were primarily related to the IS terror group.

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