Anirudh RegidiJul 12, 2016 17:37:10 IST
Facebook is facing a $1 billion lawsuit for willingly providing “material resources” to Hamas. The lawsuit was filed in New York by families of 5 Americans who were killed or hurt in a recent wave of attacks in Israel.
The lawsuit is only the latest in a string of lawsuits filed against social media platforms including Google, Twitter and Facebook and they all allege the same thing. Under the US Anti-Terrorist Act, US businesses are barred from providing supported to designated terrorists and terrorist organizations.
This lawsuit, along with at least two separate lawsuits filed for terrorist acts in Paris and Jordan (in 2014), allege that Facebook, Google and Twitter provided aid to these known terrorist organisations. The lawsuits all claim that the aforementioned social media platforms don’t do enough to curb or stop terrorism and terrorist propaganda on their site. They claim that these terrorists relied on Facebook, and others, for communicating and carrying out their terrorist activities.
Luckily for these social media platforms, America’s own Communication Decency Act protects them from content posted by “third-party users.”
A spokesperson from Facebook told Bloomberg that wanted people to feel safe on Facebook, that there was no room for such violent content and that they have a moderation and reporting system in place to deal with the issue.
I can sympathise with Facebook and the like because they’re in a very tough spot. On the one hand, these platforms comprise the bulk of online communication, on the other hand, that very popularity makes them inevitable platforms for terrorist communication.
It also doesn’t help that users demand privacy and, at the same time, transparency. This is made worse by the fact that many governments expecting free access to all communication data.
It’s likely that nothing significant will come of the lawsuits, but they do place these companies in a rather unenviable position.
Censoring the web is also a very sensitive issue, as seen in the most recent case involving the banning of activist, Huma Dar’s account. The whole issue of censorship boils down to the right to censor something. Who has that right?
While one might argue that the government or the courts have that right, things get muddled when you’re an international organization like Facebook or Twitter. Terrorism is terrorism, but in some cases, it comes down to a matter of perspective. In the case of Israel and Palestine for example, each side has its own justification for declaring the other a terrorist state.
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