Pulse shooting victims' families say social media was partly at fault; a judge disagrees

A Michigan judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by more than a dozen families of the Pulse nightclub shooting victims ...

Posted: Apr 2, 2018 12:10 PM
Updated: Apr 2, 2018 12:10 PM

A Michigan judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by more than a dozen families of the Pulse nightclub shooting victims against social media companies.

The lawsuit, filed in December 2016, accused Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (owned by Google) of knowing that ISIS recruited members online and doing nothing to stop it. Because the Pulse gunman, Omar Mateen, was able to view extremist propaganda on these social sites, the lawsuit said they were civilly liable. The complaint demanded a trial by jury.

"Without ... Twitter, Facebook, and Google (YouTube), the explosive growth of (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible," the complaint reads.

CNN has reached out to Facebook, Twitter and Google. Twitter officials declined to comment. Google and Facebook have not responded to interview requests.

The judge said there was no evidence that anything Mateen viewed online directly led to the June 2016 attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

The attorney for the families, Keith Altman, said his clients will appeal.

"We are not surprised that the law is unsettled in the terms of holding social media companies accountable. We will absolutely appeal," Altman said. "We feel the judge didn't see the case in the right way and will continue to fight. We have just as much resolve as we did before."

The dismissal of the lawsuit came the same day a jury acquitted Mateen's wife, Noor Salman. The Pulse victims' families did not have comment on Salman's acquittal, Altman said.

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