When Terror Victims Sue Twitter Over ISIS

A few months ago, a federal judge in California tossed a lawsuit by the family of a terror victim, finding Twitter isn't liable for ISIS rhetoric.

Yesterday, the families of some of those who died in European attacks for which ISIS has taken credit filed a 90 page lawsuit against Twitter. It's case No. 17-cv-00122-PAC in the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs are Cain and Gonzalez.

I'm still reading the Complaint, which begins with a detailed history of al Zarqawi and continues through the formation of the first iteration of ISIS and subsequent changes. It has imported photos into the document, such as the photo of Nick Berg as he was about to be killed by presumably Zarqawi and others, and the photo of the first flag of ISIS.


In the California case, which is now on appeal, Twitter is represented by the same firm now representing Jared Kushner.

Twitter should stick to its principles. I don't think ISIS Twitter accounts should be deleted or restricted. It's how the rest of us learn things about it.

And what about Shami Witness, aka Mehdi Masroor Biswas? He was arrested over 2 years ago for posting ISIS news updates, has been in jail in India ever since, but hasn't apparently yet gone to trial. How long does he have to wait? (Last news was they were waiting on some information from Twitter -- good luck with that.)

Have they caught this guy yet, believed to be an American?

Has Britain rescued John Cantlie?

Are any of these French ISIS fighters still alive? I doubt it.

What about this guy, who was the English speaker during the killing of the Coptic Christians in Sirte? (I don't believe he's a former Saddam loyalist from Iraq, his English was too good.)

I don't think Twitter is the problem.

Censorship is rarely the answer. Free Shami Witness.

Indian police have put Shami Witness' Twitter Account back online so they can investigate his tweets and all the people who followed him. All of his tweets are here. (You can read them without following him.)

From a post I wrote two years ago:

The ICSR (International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at the Department of War Studies, King's College London) did a study of foreign fighters and news disseminators. The published report is called Greenbirds: Measuring Importance and Influence in Syrian Foreign Fighter Networks. A summary is here. From the full report:

[Twitter] has given rise to so-called disseminator accounts which spread information from the battlefield in real-time, publishing links to new videos and official statements, spreading photographs of battles, equipment, meetings, and `martyrs.'

These disseminators are not foreign fighters nor do they have any official links to jihadist organisations. Instead, they broadly support the Islamist project in Syria and, in that respect, provide both moral and political support to the cause by establishing themselves as reliable sources of information.

The most important disseminator, who is followed by nearly two thirds of the Twitter accounts in our dataset, is Shami Witness. (my emphasis)

The report says the effect of disseminators is to lessen control of ISIS and other groups over their message.

The prominence of Shami Witness highlights the inability of jihadist groups to exert direct influence and control over their message. When jihadist conversations were previously restricted to internet forums, discussions could be policed and regulated. Dissent was monitored and, where necessary, curtailed by suspending troublesome forum members. This is no longer possible on Twitter where both fighters and their supporters are able to engage in wholly unregulated conversations about whatever they please.

Put another way:

Based on our database, the report finds that a large number of foreign fighters receive their information about the conflict not from the official channels provided by their fighting groups, but through so-called disseminators - unaffiliated but broadly sympathetic individuals who sometimes appear to offer moral and intellectual support to jihadist opposition groups. The ability of jihadist groups to exert control over information has been significantly eroded, while private individuals, who are (mostly) based in the West and who may have never set foot inside Syria, possess significant influence over how the conflict is perceived by those who are actively involved in it.

Twitter is not the problem. Also, ISIS' reliance on Twitter ended a while ago when Twitter started erasing their supporters' accounts. Many are now on Telegram, but they are harder to follow there. It can take me up to a half hour to find new ISIS videos and statements now, or a working link to its affiliated news agency (which I never repost.)

Understanding ISIS is key. Sun Tzu: the Art of War:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

I am not unsympathetic to the families of those who died in ISIS attacks. It's an undeserved, horrible fate. But we need to keep the information flowing, so we can all learn and form our own opinions. War is not the answer, and neither is censorship.

Yesterday, the U.S. announced boots on the ground in Raqqa that conducted an attack. Mission creep seems to occur daily. And we have only 10 days with a sane leader at the helm.

Keep the twitter accounts open for all of us to read.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I agree with your view, Jeralyn (none / 0) (#1)
    by Green26 on Tue Jan 10, 2017 at 07:06:26 PM EST
    Twitter shouldn't be stuck with this one. My views are slightly different with defamation called to the attention of blogs and websites.

    Trump won his twitter lawsuit today.

    " A New York Supreme Court judge on Tuesday agreed to dismiss a defamation suit brought by Cheryl Jacobus, a political strategist who, Trump tweeted, had "begged" him for a job and went "hostile" when she was turned down."


    thanks but please discuss (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Jan 10, 2017 at 09:01:44 PM EST
    Trump in an open thread and let's keep this one to Twitter and ISIS

    Thought of that, but the Trump Twitter case (none / 0) (#3)
    by Green26 on Wed Jan 11, 2017 at 12:24:26 AM EST
    seems to be relevant to this thread. I didn't mention it because of Trump. Because of twitter. Not sure this thread will get huge discussion, but may be wrong. I have had research done recently on this general subject area, so have been following the general area. I will stay out of this thread now.