The awful aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting will linger for years, and the legal repercussions are only just beginning. Various victim families have initiated a lawsuit against social media companies, accusing Facebook, Twitter, and Google of allowing violent extremist groups to thrive.
This claim seems like a stretch — although the shooter claimed allegiance with ISIS, it’s still not known if that’s actually true or just some random nonsense shouted by a crazy person. The only public knowledge we have is that he was furiously searching ISIS-related terms during the standoff.
And although radical organizations certainly do use social media, it’s anyone’s guess how vital those websites are to the spread of violent acts. Companies aren’t responsible for user-generated content; but according to the lawsuit, the combination of user-content and ad-content is a new piece of content that the companies can be sued for. Ehhhh… maybe.
Also, their attorney doesn’t exactly inspire confidence: they’re being represented by a law firm called “1-800-LAW-FIRM.”
And hey, one-eight-hundred-law-firm, do you have any plans to sue gun manufacturers? Or push for better background checks? Or overhaul the system to track gun purchases? Twitter searches don’t kill people, guns kill people.
There’s been no response from Google, Twitter declined to comment, and Facebook offered a boiler-plate statement about how they remove content that advocates for terrorism.
To their credit, the companies have previously said that they’re collaborating on a new tool that will allow them to halt terrorist content online. But judging by Twitter’s past responses to harassment, that tool is likely to be one guy with a sad face, whining quietly to himself, “oh you guys really shouldn’t say that.”