Facebook, Twitter, and Google were sued on Monday on allegations they offered "material support" to the Islamic State with accounts on their websites that helped radicalize Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen in Orlando, Florida.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan, is connected to the nightclub shooting on June 12 that killed 49 and injured 53, according to Fox News.
Before he was killed by a SWAT team, said CNN, Mateen repeatedly referenced the Islamic State while talking with a police hostage negotiator and said the United States had to stop its bombing in Syria and Iraq.
The lawsuit was brought by the families of three of the Orlando victims – Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes, and Juan Ramon Guerrero, said Fox News. The families charged that the web services "provided the terrorist group ISIS with accounts they use to spread extremist propaganda, raise funds, and attract new recruits."
"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," said the lawsuit.
The lawsuit charged that the social media networks not only gave ISIS stature, but the ability to raise funds as well.
"But for ISIS' use of defendants sites to raise funds, recruit, and conduct terrorist operations, ISIS' ability to conduct terrorist operations would essentially evaporate," state the lawsuit. "Here, had defendants sites not been used by ISIS, ISIS would not have been able to radicalize Omar Mateen leading to the deadly attack in Orlando."
USA Today said Facebook declined to comment and Google and Twitter did not respond for comment. The newspaper said, though, that federal law shields publishers from liability for the speech of others.
Attorney Keith Altman, who brought the suit on behalf of the families, charged that Facebook, Google, and Twitter should be held liable for what users post on their services because the companies combine content with advertising, noted USA Today.
"They create unique content by combining ISIS postings with advertisements in a way that is specifically targeted at the viewer," the lawsuit alleges, per USA Today. "Defendants share revenue with ISIS for its content and profit from ISIS postings through advertising revenue."
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