Court clears social media companies in the pulse massacre

A federal appeals court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit alleging Twitter, Google and Facebook are held liable for the 2016 massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando after Islamic State posted radicalized shooter Omar Mateen on social media .

A three-judge panel from the U.S. 11th Court of Appeals upheld a district judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit filed by victims and estates of victims of the shooting that killed 49 people and injured dozens of others in the LGBT club.

The verdict focused heavily on whether the plaintiffs had proven that Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook had “aided and aided” owned by Google Mateen in violation of a federal law known as the Counterterrorism Act. The 31-page ruling by the court stated that the plaintiffs had not proven that the attack was an act of international terrorism within the meaning of the law.

“We are deeply saddened by the deaths and injuries caused by Mr. Mateen’s killing spree, but we agree with the district court that the plausible claimants did not make a plausible claim that the Pulse massacre was an act of ‘international terrorism.’ as the term is. “Defined in the ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act),” wrote Judge Adalberto Jordan in the ruling that joined Judges Andrew Brasher and Julie Carnes. “And without such an act of ‘international terrorism’, the social media companies – no matter what we think of their alleged behavior – cannot be held liable for aid under the ATA.”

The Atlanta-based court said Mateen was radicalized through the use of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube by the militant Islamic group, and the group commonly known as ISIS claimed the massacre. It did, however, point to part of the definition of international terrorism as activities that “take place primarily outside of the territorial jurisdiction of the United States or cross national borders”.

“Mr. Mateen radicalized himself on the internet while living in Florida and identified with ISIS,” wrote Jordan. “He then used firearms to commit mass murder and mayhem in the same state. His deadly acts of domestic terrorism – and the means with which he achieved it – do not plausibly cross national borders. “

The ruling also states that ISIS did not commit, plan or approve the attack.

“ISIS sought retrospective credit and there is nothing in the lawsuit to suggest that ISIS knew about Mr. Mateen or knew in advance of his planned attack on Pulse,” the ruling reads. “Although the lawsuit alleges that ‘ISIS reaches out to potential recruits by maintaining accounts on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube so that individuals around the world can contact it directly,’ the plaintiffs never claim that Mr Mateen was in contact with ISIS before the shooting or that ISIS was involved in the commission, planning or approval of the attack or that ISIS knew about the attack in advance. “

The appeals court also dismissed charges against the Florida law social media companies for negligent infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death.

Mateen entered Pulse in the early morning of June 12, 2016, armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a semi-automatic pistol, and committed what was then the deadliest single person mass shooting in US history. Before he was killed by the police, he barricaded himself in a bathroom, called 911 and declared himself ISIS according to the verdict.

The Pulse massacre was the second deadliest mass shooting by a single person in 2017 when an armed man killed 60 people in Las Vegas.

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