Among the many innocent victims of the horrible carnage in Paris last November was a young American design student, Ms. Nohemi Gonzalez. Now her father is holding internet giants Google, Facebook and Twitter accountable for allegedly providing "material support" to terrorists and those attuned to their ideology. According to a lawsuit filed by Mr. Reynaldo Gonzalez in a California federal court on Tuesday, the three aforementioned companies are alleged to have “knowingly” allowed terrorist organizations like ISIS to go about raising money, spreading its violent propaganda and recruit foot soldiers for its nefarious purposes using their respective online platforms. Mr. Golalez’s 23-year old daughter was among the 130 people killed last November, when assailants believed to be inspired and assisted by ISIS gunned down innocent and unarmed civilians with impunity at various locations across the French capital.
According to the lawsuit filed by Mr. Gonzalez in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, the aforementioned companies "knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use their social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits." The lawsuit also argues that Google benefited financially from advertising revenues earned from ISIS propaganda videos posted on YouTube. The lawsuit also holds the three tech companies responsible for “the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most-feared terrorist group in the world.”
While Facebook and Twitter reportedly dismissed the suit as being “without merit”, Google pleaded innocence by pointing out that “YouTube has a strong track record of taking swift action against terrorist content.” According to a statement released by the search giant to the media, YouTube has “clear policies prohibiting terrorist recruitment and content intending to incite violence.” The company also claimed that it does its best to remove videos violating its stringent policies and that it also terminates accounts run by groups advocating violence. It remains to be seen what comes of this lawsuit against three of the largest tech companies in the world, but with more and more young people resorting to violence after being influenced by material found on the internet, politicians around the world are coming under increasing pressure from law-enforcement agencies to introduce more stringent regulations that can have a chilling effect on the right to free speech for the vast majority of law-abiding citizens.