Widow sues Twitter for spreading ISIS message

The Twitter logo displayed in front of the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - The widow of a man killed in a terrorist attack is suing Twitter for serving as a propaganda platform that has fueled the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group's "explosive growth."

A suit filed in federal court in the Northern California city of Oakland on Wednesday accuses Twitter of providing "material support" for terrorists by allowing the group "unfettered" use of the service to spread its message, recruit members, and raise money.

"This material support has been instrumental to the rise of ISIS and has enabled it to carry out numerous terrorist attacks," the lawsuit argued.

Included in those attacks, the lawsuit maintained, was one in Jordan in November of last year that resulted in the plaintiff's husband, Lloyd Fields, being shot dead.

Fields was a government contractor working at a police training facility.

Twitter told AFP on Thursday that it believed the lawsuit to be "without merit".

"Like people around the world, we are horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by extremist groups and their ripple effects on the Internet," a Twitter spokesman said in response to an AFP inquiry.

"Violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that clear."

Twitter has teams devoted to investigating reports of accounts or posts that violate its rules and works with counter-extremist groups or law enforcement agencies when warranted, according to the spokesman.

The lawsuit calls for unspecified cash damages and a jury trial.

"Without Twitter, the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible," contended the complaint filed on behalf of the Florida widow.

Twitter has instituted a ban on content that promotes terrorism and deleted thousands of accounts associated with ISIS.

Some Twitter employees have been targeted with death threats from ISIS for suspending accounts.

The free and open nature of the San Francisco-based one-to-many messaging service, however, makes it easy for people whose accounts have been shut down to create new accounts with different Twitter "handles."

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