On Monday, families of three victims killed in the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando filed a federal civil suit against Twitter, Facebook, and Google for providing "material support" to the Islamic State, the terror group to which the jihadist shooter pledged his allegiance.
In June, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old America-born son of an Afghanistan refugee, opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and wounding another 53 before being killed by law enforcement. One of Mateen's final acts was to post a rant on Facebook decrying "the filthy ways of the west" and pledging his allegiance to ISIS. Despite having been investigated by the FBI multiple times, Mateen was able to carry out the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
Now the families of three of his victims are suing the online platforms for having allegedly helped facilitate his radicalization. Fox News reports:
In a complaint filed in the Eastern District of Michigan, the families of Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes and Juan Ramon Guerrero argue that the three web platforms "provided the terrorist group ISIS with accounts they use to spread extremist propaganda, raise funds, and attract new recruits."
"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," the lawsuit states.
Though investigations into Mateen found that he was not an official member of ISIS, Mateen swore allegiance to the group, and the terrorist organization publicly claimed him as one of their own.
While he might not have had official ties to the group, the families' lawyer says that the "tools" provided by Twitter, Facebook and Google, their lax policing of radical material and advertising policies aided in his radicalization.
"Mateen was radicalized by ISIS using the defendants tools for that express purpose," attorney Keith Altman told FoxNews.com.
The standard defense of web platforms for similar accusations in the past is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which effectively absolves online platforms from liability for the content posted by users.
"No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider," reads the section.
But Altman argues that the advertising schemes of the platforms change the game because each of the platforms "create unique content" by connecting the radical material with advertising, which further funds and fuels the radical content.
"The defendants create unique content by matching ISIS postings with advertisements based upon information known about the viewer," he said. "Furthermore, the defendants finance ISIS’s activities by sharing advertising revenue."
"Experts on Internet law say that while in the past courts have been reluctant to hold these platforms responsible for content posted on their sites, if the suit filed by the Pulse victims’ families is successful, it could drastically reshape the world of social media," reports Fox.
Top image (Getty Images): "Matt Mitchell pays his respects at a memorial in front the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to the victims of the Pulse gay nightclub shooting where Omar Mateen allegedly killed 49 people on June 14, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The mass shooting killed at least 49 people and injuring 53 others in what is the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history."