The families of three of the people killed in the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in June Tevin Eugene Crosby, Juan Guerrero, and Javier Jorge-Reyes filed suit this week in federal court in Detroit against tech giants Google, Twitter, and Facebook, contending that the three companies facilitated "the explosive growth of ISIS," and "knowingly and recklessly provided the terrorist group ISIS with accounts to use its social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds, and attracting new recruits." As Reuters notes, such suits of which this is not the first of its kind have "faced an uphill fight because of strong protections in U.S. federal law for the technology industry."
As the Washington Post explains, the suit not only contends that the three companies provided material support to terrorists like shooter Omar Mateen, but that they indirectly profited from ISIS postings and accounts "through advertising revenue."
It's been well established, including by statements from Mateen's wife, that Mateen often viewed jihadist content on YouTube.
A similar lawsuit was filed against the same three companies this past June by Reynaldo Gonzalez, the father of 23-year-old student Nohemi Gonzalez who was killed in the terrorist attack in Paris last November.
Another case against Twitter noted by the Washington Post, filed by families of two US government contractors who were victims of an attack in Jordan, was dismissed by a federal judge in Northern California last month at Twitter's request. The judged dismissed claims that Twitter was liable either for providing accounts to ISIS members, or for allowing them a platform through which to send direct messages to each other.
Despite legal protections for technology platforms when it comes to liability for the content posted or shared by its users, lawmakers were quick to point out, following the Orlando attack, that shooter Omar Mateen was using Facebook to celebrate his act and broadcast his affiliation with ISIS while the attack, and his three-hour standoff with a SWAT team, was still underway.