HomeUS News updateSupreme Court tackles claim that Twitter aided and abetted terrorist attack

Supreme Court tackles claim that Twitter aided and abetted terrorist attack

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court is considering Wednesday whether Twitter can be prosecuted for aiding and abetting the spread of militant Islamic ideology in connection with a terrorist attack that killed a Jordanian.

Relatives of Navrus Alsaf, who was killed in Istanbul in 2017, filed a lawsuit claiming that Twitter, Google and Facebook were liable for aiding and abetting the attack under a federal law called the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Wednesday’s argument is the second part of a Big Tech double-header at the Supreme Court, where justices wrestled Tuesday with a related case on whether Google-owned YouTube should be allowed similar conduct in connection with the killing of US Nohemi Gonzalez. can be prosecuted for. College students, in the 2015 Paris attacks carried out by the Islamic State terrorist group.

Unlike Tuesday’s case, Twitter’s argument does not concern Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the legal shield that protects Internet companies from liability for content posted by users.

Instead it focused on whether such a claim could be brought under anti-terrorism law. Lower courts have not addressed whether Section 230 protects Twitter and other companies in the case. Only Twitter appealed against the appellate court’s decision; Facebook and Google filed a brief in support.

Alsaf was visiting Istanbul with his wife when he was one of 39 people killed by ISIS-affiliated Abdulkadir Mashripov at the Rina nightclub. Mashripov made a “martyrdom” video saying he was inspired by ISIS and wanted to die in a suicide attack. He escaped capture after the shootout but was later arrested and convicted.

Alassaf’s family claims that without the active assistance of Twitter, Facebook and Google, ISIS’s message and associated recruitment efforts would not have spread so widely. It does not allege that Twitter actively seeks to aid ISIS.

Twitter’s lawyers argue that it provides the same general services to all of its users and actively tries to prevent terrorists from using them. Lawyers say a ruling against the company could allow for lawsuits against many entities providing widely available goods or services, including humanitarian groups.

The Biden administration has filed a brief supporting Twitter, saying that the plaintiffs failed to allege that the company knowingly provided aid to ISIS.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, but the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said in a 2021 ruling that the aiding and abetting claim could go forward. The court concluded that the family had sufficiently alleged that the companies had provided substantial support to ISIS.

In the related YouTube case, the justices could avoid ruling on the scope of Section 230 immunity — a closely watched issue in the tech industry — if they rule in favor of Twitter in Wednesday’s case. This would lead to the dismissal of YouTube’s lawsuit whether the company is protected by Section 230 or not.



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