The family of Nohemi Gonzalez, who was slain in the 2015 Paris attacks, claims in a lawsuit that Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google profit from targeted advertising linked to terrorist propaganda promoting violence. The case is Gonzalez v. Twitter Inc., 16-cv-03282, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).
The case is one of several similar cases in U.S. courts that allege the social media giants have had crucial roles in the recruiting and growth of terrorist organisation in recent years. We previously reported on the suit where Twitter "knowingly permitted Isis" on their social network.
Seeing as Twitter is quick to ban controversial conservative journalists, possibly because they were getting them bad press among the Hollywood elite, one wonders if Isis groups are allowed to operate simply because لا يمكنك قراءة هذا (you can not read this).
The biggest hurdle in a suit like this will be making Twitter as the platform responsible for the speech of others. Since Twitter has no qualms of banning users outright, or forcing users to delete their tweets before allowing them back in to their accounts, one could argue that Twitter has taken that responsibility already. See Slate: "Twitter may force users to delete certain tweets before being allowed to log on again."
The family of Nohemi Gonzalez said Friday in a revised version of a lawsuit which was initially filed in June, that the social media companies created “original content” by tying advertisements to ISIS-supported posts and generating revenue from them. "Not only does Defendant Google profit from ISIS, it shares some of those revenues with ISIS. In order for ads to appear associated with a posting on a YouTube video, the poster must create a Google AdSense account. The poster must the register the account for monetization" claims the suit. Thus, when the social companies target specific ads to users based on the content they’re viewing, the companies are acting outside the Communications Decency Act ’s protection for internet platforms that are used to share text, photos and videos, says Keith Altman, a lawyer for the Gonzalez family. Youtube has recently updated their content monetization rules, prompting the hashtag "YoutubeIsOverParty" and a boost to Vid.me go quickly capitalized on the controversy, since some videos can no longer be automatically monetized without a human approving it.
“Although defendants have not created the posting, nor have they created the advertisement, defendants have created new unique content by choosing which advertisement to combine with the posting," reads the revised suit filed by Altman on Friday in California.
Twitter do not respond to press inquires, Google and Facebook has declined to comment.
In the suit, The Gonzalez family show that Google actually have to approve videos that are monetized, and that google share in the revenue generated fro such videos. They have examples of ISIS propaganda that are monetized on Youtube. The Gonzalez family also show that Twitter has done little to permanently remove ISIS backers from the social media platform. The complaint cites a Twitter user with the handle “DriftOne00146” that was removed 145 times before being reintroduced for a 146th iteration. Within days and a dozen posts, the user had 547 followers again, according to the complaint.
Pointing out the link between ad revenue generated on the users content within these social media platforms may be the silver bullet, as previous suits have been dismissed like the case Fields v. Twitter Inc in August where Twitter was ruled not liable when the social network was used to spread propaganda that may have led to the death of an American in Amman, Jordan