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Twitter is not liable for 2015 ISIS-linked killings, California court rules

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A San Francisco federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that Twitter is not liable for its failure to block an Islamic State group’s attack, which resulted in the death of two US government contractors, as spotted by Reuters. The decision upholds a 2016 ruling on the same case, which was filed by the families of the victims of the terrorist attack.

The 2016 civil lawsuit alleged that Twitter was responsible for the ISIS-linked killings of Lloyd Fields and James Creach in Jordan in November 2015. The families argued that Twitter should have anticipated attacks based on ISIS’s messaging and presence on its platform, which helped the group spread its message, recruit, and raise funds. This week, the court ruled 3-0 against the appeal, with Circuit Judge Milan Smith noting that the plaintiffs did not show a “direct relationship” between Twitter’s behavior and the families’ injuries. Furthermore, Smith concluded that there was no connection shown between Twitter and the perpetrator, Jordanian police officer Anwar Abu Zeid, nor between the attack and ISIS posts on Twitter.

“[T]he provision of these services and equipment to terrorists could be expected to cause ripples of harm to flow far beyond the defendant’s misconduct,” Smith wrote. “Nothing in [the law] indicates that Congress intended to provide a remedy to every person reached by these ripples.

This week’s decision comes after another lawsuit was filed against Facebook for the murder of a Cleveland man whose shooting was live-streamed on the social network. The family of the victim argues that Facebook should have spotted and acted when a user on its platform announced an intention to kill.