Family members of San Bernardino terror attack victims sued Facebook, Google and Twitter, accusing the companies of providing platforms that help the Islamic State group spread propaganda, recruit followers and raise money.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles alleges that the companies aided and abetted terrorism, provided material support to terrorist groups, and are liable for the wrongful deaths of three of the 14 victims killed in the Dec. 2, 2015, attack on a health department training event and holiday party.
Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the husband-and-wife shooters who carried out the attack with high-powered rifles, were inspired by the Islamic State group, authorities said. Malik had pledged her allegiance to the group on her Facebook page around the time of the shooting, which also wounded 22 people.
The lawsuit mirrors claims targeting social media providers in courts around the country for deaths in attacks abroad and at home. The same lawyers have sued the same companies for the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Some of those lawsuits have been dismissed because federal law shields online providers from responsibility for content posted by users.
Facebook said it sympathizes with the victims and their families and that it quickly removes content by terrorist groups when it’s reported.
“There is no place on Facebook for groups that engage in terrorist activity or for content that expresses support for such activity,” the company said in a statement.
Google and Twitter didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit claims the companies don’t do enough to block or remove accounts by the Islamic State group and they profit from ads placed next to IS postings. It also says Google shares revenue with the group.
“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 said, using an acronym for Islamic State.
The suit filed by relatives of Sierra Clayborn, Tin Nguyen, and Nicholas Thalasinos seeks unspecified monetary damages.