A US judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Twitter that accused the micro-blogging site for the rise of the Islamic State (IS) terror group by providing “material support to IS” on its platform.
The lawsuit – filed by the family of Lloyd Fields who died in an IS attack in Jordan in 2015 – sought to hold Twitter responsible for the attack, accusing it for letting IS supporters and sympathisers use its social media platform.
The complaint alleged widespread fundraising and recruitment through Twitter, attributing 30,000 foreign actors recruited through IS Twitter accounts in 2015 alone, The Verge reported on Thursday.
“Apart from the private nature of Direct Messaging, plaintiffs identify no other way in which their Direct Messaging theory seeks to treat Twitter as anything other than a publisher of information provided by another information content provider,” said the ruling.
Even the private nature of Twitter’s Direct Messaging feature “does not remove the transmission of such messages from the scope of publishing activity under section 230(c)(1),” added the California District Court judge.
Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act is commonly known as the “Safe Harbor” clause.
The clause protects online services from liability for speech published on their network, like a libelous statement in the comments section of a news article.
The user who published the comment can still be held responsible but Section 230 prohibits legal action against the website itself, the report added.
The plaintiffs had argued Twitter was not covered by Section 230, adding that its continued provision of accounts to IS counted as an act of publishing or speech.
A recent report from George Washington University said that the reach of IS on the micro blogging site Twitter has stopped growing and slowly rolling back.
J.M.Berger, a fellow with George Washington University’s Programme on Extremism, and Heather Perez, a law enforcement analyst, tracked a curated list of pro-IS twitter accounts between August and October 2015.
“We found that Twitter’s increased willingness to suspend users and make other changes to its terms of service have measurably reduced the size and activity of IS support networks on the platform, including steady reductions in follower counts and tweets per day,” lawfareblog.com quoted Berger as saying.
Although the terror group still maintains a significant online presence, there is at least a glimmer of hope that efforts to curtail them were bearing fruit, said the report.
“Individual IS supporters who created multiple accounts and saw them repeatedly suspended suffered a disastrous loss of followers,” Berger said.
The report finds out that the IS has lost significant broadcast capability since its Twitter peak in June 2014.
Still, there were more than 20,000 Twitter accounts supporting the group across multiple languages.