Tamara Fields lost her husband, private contractor Lloyd “Carl” Fields Jr, to a lone wolf Islamic State terror attack at a training centre in Jordan in November 2015.
The Florida-based Fields has now filed a lawsuit against micro-blogging site Twitter.
Her accusation? Twitter is directly responsible for the rapid rise of the Islamic State through allowing the fanatic followers of the barbaric group to recruit on its social media platform.
The federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday is the first such attempt at holding the micro-blogging giant responsible for the spread of terrorism across the Middle East.
In her lawsuit Tamara writes that it would not have been possible for IS to rise so rapidly into the world’s largest terror organization without Twitter.
“Twitter has knowingly permitted IS to spread propaganda and recruit members,” her lawsuit reads.
In the lawsuit, she references to the observation done by Brookings Institution:
“Islamic State has exploited social media, most notoriously Twitter, to send its propaganda and messaging out to the world and to draw in people vulnerable to radicalization.”
Tamara backs up her accusations with screenshots and examples of how Twitter has helped in spread the Islamic State ideology, gain recruits and gather funds.
“As of December 2014, ISIS had an estimated 70,000 Twitter accounts, at least 79 of which were ‘official’, and it posted at least 90 tweets every minute,” she writes.
Many prominent Twitter handles either promoted the IS ideology or helped in recruitment.
Mehdi Masroor Biswas, a Bangalore-based techie from West Bengal in India, was arrested in December 2014 for operating an pro-IS Twitter handle, @ShamiWitness. Areeb Majeed, who joined the IS but returned disillusioned back to India, was recruited through online tools.
Precisely because of this reason clerics in Bengaluru started an online drive to spread awareness among the youth against the Islamic State.
Twitter, however, has rejected the lawsuit’s claims.
“While we believe the lawsuit is without merit, we are deeply saddened to hear of this family’s terrible loss,” a Twitter spokesperson was quoted as saying in a statement.
“Like people around the world, we are horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by extremist groups and their ripple effects on the Internet. Violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that clear.”
Hacktivist groups such as Anonymous have accused Twitter of doing practically nothing against the Islamic State accounts despite having tools at their disposal.
A hacktivist group, WauchulaGhost, told news.com.au that Twitter can at least start by using “software that has already been developed to search and remove the graphic content”.
“Anonymous and the Citizens of the World have basically been doing Twitter’s job,” they said.
“If Fields wins, this could be a precedent-setting lawsuit, making Twitter accountable not only to governments looking to contain terrorist speech online, but also liable to families affected by that activity,” wired.com report said.
Twitter has taken steps to fight abuse in order to protect freedom of expression. Megan Christina, director, trust and safety at Twitter, had posted in a blog last month:
“The updated language emphasises that Twitter will not tolerate behaviour intended to harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence another user’s voice.”
But Twitter founder Biz Stone had remarked on June 20, 2014:
“If you want to create a platform that allows for the freedom of expression for hundreds of millions of people around the world, you really have to take the good with the bad.”
Twitter is totally and completely protected by Section 230 of the CDA that says the company is not liable for how people use the platform.
Pressure is, however, on Twitter and other social networking groups to actually step up in the fight against terrorism.
On January 8, the Obama administration set up a task force to crack down on extremist groups using the Internet to advance their goals, find recruits and plan attacks.