Families of San Bernardino shooting sue Facebook, Google, Twitter

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Families of three people killed in an Islamic extremist-inspired mass shooting in California are suing Facebook, Google and Twitter, claiming the internet giants permitted Islamic State to flourish on social media.

Altman filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of three relatives of people killed by Omar Mateen, who attacked the Pulse nightclub in Orlando almost a year ago.

"The family members say in their lawsuit that the social media companies' platforms amounted to material support to Islamic State and that the online content posted there fueled the radicalization of Malik and Farook".

"Without Defendants Twitter, Facebook, and Google (YouTube), the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible", local media cited the complaint.

Family members of victims Sierra Clayborn, Tin Nguyen and Nicholas Thalasinos claim Twitter, Google's YouTube and Facebook have profited from the terrorist group's postings through targeted advertising.

Keith Altman, an attorney representing some of the family members and who filed the suit along with attorney Theida Salazar, talked about the goals of the lawsuit in an email to HuffPost.

For the unfamiliar, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik carried out the San Bernardino attack, which took place on December 2, 2015, at the Regional Center. Authorities stated that the couple was under the influence of Islamist militants, and the attack was seen as one of the most severe by Islamic extremists in the United States since the September 11, 2001 attacks. Investigators said that Malik, on the day of the shooting, "pledged allegiance" to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a Facebook post.

The major tech platforms recently said they would cooperate in an effort to remove terrorist propaganda.

The companies didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment. Twitter said in the last six months of 2016, almost 380,000 accounts were suspended because of terrorist-related violations. The tech companies have argued they are not liable for the content of their users, asserting protections under the Communications Decency Act, the federal law that provides immunity to internet companies that publish user content.

While legal experts claim the lawsuit is unlikely to succeed in court and the statute has protected social media sites in the past, lawyers are claiming the secretive algorithms used to curate content can be open to abuse.

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