Families of three men that were killed at Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub sued Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) in federal court. The companies were accused of providing “material support” to the gunman.
Omar Mateen had killed 49 people and wounded 53 in a mass shooting. He had pledged affiliation with an Islamic State militant group before police had shot and killed him on June 12th, 2016. The lawsuit was filed on Monday in Detroit federal court by families of Juan Ramon Guerrero, Javier Jorge-Reyes and Tevin Crosby.
Although similar lawsuits have been filed, U.S. federal law for the technology industry provides a strong threshold for those seeking justice. The lawsuit focuses on how Google’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter “provided the terrorist group ISIS with accounts they use to spread extremist propaganda, raise funds and attract new recruits.”
Facebook announced on Tuesday that there is no such place on its service for groups that support or engage in terrorism. “We are committed to providing a service where people feel safe when using Facebook,” said Facebook in a statement. “We sympathize with the victims and their families.”
Representative of Google could not be reached. Twitter has declined to comment as the social media giant had suspended 360,000 accounts since mid-2015 for violating policies related to the promotion of terrorism.
The three companies, as well as Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) have said they would coordinate a stronger effort to remove extremist content. Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act states that website operators cannot be liable for content posted by others.
The lawsuit claims that the companies have created unique content from combining ISIS posts with advertisements to target viewers. They have also claimed that revenue is shared from ISIS postings from the content to profits through advertising revenues.