War Widow Sues Twitter, Claims It Did Nothing to Stop ISIS From Killing Her Husband
There's a jihadist propaganda war on Twitter, and Twitter is being taken to task for allegedly allowing it to happen.
Florida woman Tamara Fields is suing Twitter to hold the company accountable for the death of her husband, Lloyd "Carl" Fields, Jr., who was killed by ISIS militants while in Jordan, where he was training Jordanian police and security officers. The jihadists who took responsibility for the attack said that they intended to "turn thousands of supporters of the caliphate on Twitter and others to wolves" in the future.
"For years, Twitter has knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use its social network as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits," the complaint filed in federal court says. "This material support has been instrumental to the rise of ISIS and has enabled it to carry out numerous terrorist attacks, including the November 9, 2015, shooting attack in Amman, Jordan, in which Lloyd 'Carl' Fields, Jr. was killed."
Tamara Fields' accusations in the complaint are pulled straight from recent headlines about ISIS's social media presence, quoting U.S. officials on how Twitter has allegedly been reluctant to cooperate with counter-terrorism efforts. Some lawyers have speculated to Reuters that this sets a new precedent for for anti-terrorism law, and that Twitter will be the first company of its kind to be sued for 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," a Twitter representative told Ars Technica. "Like people around the world, we are horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by extremist groups and their ripple effects on the internet."
Demanding answers: Twitter has been a propaganda battleground for ISIS. Hacktivist groups and government agencies have spent the past year cutting down social media accounts and infiltrating online forums to extract valuable intelligence about the way ISIS organizes and plans attacks.
One activist group, Ghost Security Group, claims to have taken down 110,000 of these Twitter counts alone, and admits that it only scratches the surface.
Twitter could be forced through to court process to finally fess up to how they've been handling ISIS's social media presence.
Counterterrorism experts and advocates have been extremely vocal about their battle against ISIS online, which plays out in the news, in private internet forums and, of course, in Twitter's digital public square.
Twitter has been relatively silent on the matter. When Mic and other outlets have reached out to Twitter to ask about how they're dealing with jihadist social media accounts, they've refused comment and referred them to existing, published list of guidelines — though some employees have leaked information anonymously.