The widow of an American killed in Jordan is suing Twitter for giving a voice to Islamic State.
Florida woman Tamara Fields said Twitter knowingly let IS maintain official Twitter accounts and knowingly allowed it to use its network to raise money and spread propaganda. She has accused Twitter of violating the US Anti-Terrorism Act.
“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,” Fields said in her complaint filed in a California federal court on Wednesday.
Her lawyer said he believed this to be the first time a social media company was accused of violating the Anti-Terrorism Act.
“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.
“Violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that clear.”
A University of Notre Dame law professor and former US Treasury Department official said Fields may have trouble proving that Twitter did know or should have known its site 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 US Treasury Department official specialising in terrorist financing,” he said.
“But at the end of the day, is there a sufficient nexus between ISIS' use of Twitter and acts of terror?
“I'm not saying you can't show it but it's a real challenge.”
An SBS report suggested the lawsuit may put pressure on other social media sites to remove posts associated with terrorist groups.