The father of a US student who was killed in the Paris terrorist attacks last year is suing Google, Twitter and Facebook, alleging that the companies provided “material support” to ISIS and other extremist groups.
Nohemi Gonzalez, a design student at California State University, was one of the 130 people who died in the November 13 Paris massacre. On Tuesday, her father filed a lawsuit, which seeks compensatory damages, in federal court in San Francisco claiming the companies aided the growth of terrorist organizations such as Islamic State - a violation of the US anti-terrorism act.
"For years, defendants have knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use their social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits," the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit says the companies’ “material support” has allowed ISIS to carry out a number of attacks, the including the one in Paris that killed Gonzalez, who was studying abroad at the time.
The lawyer representing Nohemi Gonzalez's father said the case isn’t an argument over free speech, it's about the companies allowing these groups to use their services as a way of communicating with members and organizing attacks.
It's also alleged that Google’s AdSense program resulted in the company making payments to ISIS, though no specific transactions were referenced in the complaint.
The case is similar to the one brought by Tamara Fields against Twitter back in January. Her lawsuit claimed the microblogging site held some responsibility for the death of her US contractor husband who was murdered in a Jordan shooting. ISIS later took credit for the attack, and Fields said Twitter’s alleged failure to remove the group’s propaganda from the site is also a violation of US anti-terrorist law.
Although it would not comment directly on the Gonzalez lawsuit, Google did give the following statement: “We have clear policies prohibiting terrorist recruitment and content intending to incite violence and quickly remove videos violating these policies when flagged by our users. We also terminate accounts run by terrorist organizations or those that repeatedly violate our policies."
Facebook said it contacts the authorities when it sees evidence of anything it considers a threat. "There is no place for terrorists or content that promotes or supports terrorism on Facebook, and we work aggressively to remove such content as soon as we become aware of it," the company said in a statement.
Twitter could not be reached for comment
The lawsuit pulls no punches in blaming the three firms for the recent growth of ISIS. "Without defendants Twitter, Facebook, and Google (YouTube), the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most-feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible," it said.