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US widow sues Twitter for giving IS group a platform

Tamara Fields filed a lawsuit against the social media company for giving an 'unfettered' voice to Islamic State group
Twitter said Fields' allegations were 'without merit' AFP)

An American whose husband was killed in an attack in Jordan is suing Twitter for giving a platform for the Islamic State group to disseminate its propaganda.

Tamara Fields, whose husband Lloyd was killed on 9 November in an attack on a police training centre in Jordan, said that Twitter allowed IS to spread its resources, recruit supporters, and raise funds.

“Without Twitter, the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible,” Fields’ complaint stated.

Her husband Lloyd, a government contractor and police trainer, was one of five people killed by Jordanian police officer Anwar Abu Zeid at the Jordanian International Police Training Centre (JIPTC) near Amman.

Two other Jordanian policemen, a South African and another US instructor were also killed.

Abu Zeid, reportedly a Salafist, reportedly committed suicide after his shooting spree, and the incident was treated as a “lone wolf attack” by authorities who stressed that there were no ties to any bigger militant group.

Many Jordanians, including Abu Zeid’s family, viewed the shooting attack as a tragic one motivated by personal reasons.

Fields’ lawsuit, which she filed on Wednesday from Oakland, California, demands Twitter pay her triple damages for violating the federal Anti-Terrorism Act by providing material support to terrorists.

She cited Twitter as giving IS “unfettered” ability to maintain official Twitter accounts.

Bursor & Fisher, the firm representing Fields, said that this the first case in which a social media company is accused of violating the law.

Twitter responded to the lawsuit in a statement, dismissing it as having no merit.

“While we believe the lawsuit is without merit, we are deeply saddened to hear of this family’s terrible loss,” the statement read.

“Violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and like other social networks, our rules make that clear.”

Joshua Arisohn, Fields’ lawyer, believes his client’s case holds distinctive weight and can prove that Twitter played a significant role in her husband’s death.

"Given the significant support that Twitter has knowingly provided to ISIS over the years, we're confident that we can meet this standard," Arisohn said.

Twitter prides itself on the image of defending free speech, and is known for its reluctance towards censorship.

Last month, it updated its policies to prohibit “hateful conduct” content.

In its transparency report for 2015, the San Francisco-based company consented to getting rid of 42 percent of the just over 1,000 removal requests from governments, law enforcement and courts worldwide.

During the first half of 2015, it did not comply with any of the US government’s 25 removal requests.

According to data compiled by the Brookings Institute think tank, as many as an estimated 46,000 Twitter accounts were run by IS supporters between the months of September and December 2014. 

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