(Reuters) - The widow of an American killed in a shooting attack at a Jordanian police training center has sued Twitter Inc, blaming the social media company for making it easier for Islamic State to spread its message.
Tamara Fields, a Florida woman whose husband Lloyd died in the Nov. 9 attack, accused Twitter of having knowingly let the militant Islamist group use its network to spread propaganda, raise money and attract recruits. She said the San Francisco-based company had until recently given Islamic State an “unfettered” ability to maintain official Twitter accounts.
“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,” according to the complaint filed on Wednesday in the federal court in Oakland, California.
The lawsuit may add to the pressure that social media companies face to take down posts associated with terrorist groups.
Last Friday, the Obama administration set up a task force to crack down on extremist groups using the Internet to advance their goals, find recruits and plan attacks, such as recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
“While we believe the lawsuit is without merit, we are deeply saddened to hear of this family’s terrible loss,” Twitter said in a statement about the lawsuit. “Violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that clear.”
Lloyd “Carl” Fields, a government contractor, was among five people killed in a “lone wolf” attack at an Amman police training center by Jordanian police officer Anwar Abu Zeid.
His widow said Islamic State, also known as ISIS, later claimed responsibility and praised the attack.
She is seeking triple damages from Twitter for its alleged violations of the federal Anti-Terrorism Act.
Lawyers for Tamara Fields did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
According to its online “transparency report,” Twitter honored 42 percent of the 1,003 removal requests submitted by governments, law enforcement and courts worldwide from January to June 2015, but none of the 25 requests in the United States.
More than two-thirds of the requests, or 718, came from Turkey. Twitter said it withheld 158 accounts and 2,354 tweets in various countries during the period.
The case is Fields v. Twitter Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 16-00213.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Dena Aubin; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Alistair Bell)