The Social Media Battlefield

Just as social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become popular and valuable tools for communication, networking, and marketing for individuals and entities around the world, radical Islamic jihadists and other terror groups have also adopted social media to recruit followers, incite violence, and carry out their terrorist activities.

Unfortunately, social media providers have largely turned a blind eye to the use of their services by terrorists, refusing to actively identify and delete known terrorist accounts. Shurat HaDin has initiated a public campaign and legal strategy to challenge these companies for their complicity in the terrorism that their services are used to facilitate and promote.

In July 2016, Shurat HaDin filed Force v. Facebook, a $1 billion lawsuit on behalf of five victims of terror and their families against Facebook for knowingly providing material support to designated foreign terrorist organization Hamas in violation of U.S. antiterrorism law. The complaint demonstrates how Facebook has aided and abetted Hamas for years by providing valuable and essential services to the terror group, which used Facebook to commit its terrorist activities. This lawsuit followed a prior suit that Shurat HaDin filed against Facebook in October 2015, seeking an order compelling Facebook to monitor its platform and deny services to terrorists. Both cases are now pending before the same federal judge in New York.

Facebook’s primary defense is that it should be immune from liability under a 1996 federal law enacted to shield providers of interactive services on the Internet from claims that would attribute third-party content to the service provider, such as defamation. However, liability under U.S. antiterrorism laws does not depend upon attributing Hamas’s Facebook posts to the company. Rather, liability, in this case, is based upon Facebook’s violation of the material support statutes, for which Facebook can be required to pay damages for injuries that result from its provision of such support to terror groups.

Today, Shurat HaDin is also involved in ongoing litigation against Twitter and Google for providing material support to Hamas, ISIS, and other designated terrorist organizations.