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Should Facebook, Google, Twitter be legally liable for aiding terrorism in San Bernardino attack?




Police offers stand guard at North Park Elementary School following a shooting on campus on April 10, 2017 in San Bernardino, California.
Police offers stand guard at North Park Elementary School following a shooting on campus on April 10, 2017 in San Bernardino, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

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Claiming that tech giants Google, Twitter and Facebook provided platforms for the Islamic State to distribute the extremist propaganda that helped radicalize the two individuals who carried out the terrorist attack in San Bernardino in 2015, lawyers for the families of the victims from that attack have filed a lawsuit against the companies in U.S. District Court.

The lawsuit says not only did the companies provide the platform for ISIS to spread its propaganda, but also profited from advertising revenue off of the posts on places like YouTube and Facebook. The companies, they argue, knew or should have known that this kind of activity was happening on their platforms and did nothing about it, despite having the means and technology to do so.

Similar suits have been filed in courts across the United States and, so far, none of them have been successful. The Communications Decency Act, which prevents online providers from being held liable for users’ postings, has been the main issue in each case.

Do you think the companies share some responsibility for aiding in terrorism? Or do you think the suit is too far-reaching and will likely run into similar issues that have come up in the past? What, if anything, should the standard be when it comes to platforms like Facebook and Twitter taking responsibility for the content users post on them?

Guests:

Theida Salazar, attorney at law; he is one of the lawyers representing families of San Bernardino victims

Drew Mitnick, policy counsel at Access Now, an international non-profit that advocates for free and open internet; Mitnick works on cybersecurity, digital due process and privacy