Families of four Israeli-US dual nationals and one American citizen have filed a private lawsuit against Facebook on Monday claiming that the most popular social network on the planet assisted in the planning of Hamas' attacks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the occupied West Bank between 2014 and 2016 which resulted in the deaths of their loved ones. The plaintiffs are suing for $1 billion in damages and have filed their lawsuit at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In it, they've accused Facebook of not only providing material support and other resources to Palestinian militants but also doing so knowingly, which is a pretty large claim and the main basis for the 10-digit figure mentioned above. The lawsuit concludes that Facebook's actions had directly facilitated the terrorist group's operations which resulted in the tragic deaths of their family members.
The lawsuit was filed less than a week after Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan blamed Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg specifically for the recent killings of Hallel Ariel and Michael Marks. Erdan stated that the social network was unwilling to help track suspected Palestinian militants while Facebook went on to defend its rules and regulations against online abuse. Interestingly enough, while Zuckerberg was accused of assisting terrorists, he himself was recently threatened by another militant group.
It's worth noting that while this lawsuit states experts have linked Hamas to all of the terrorist attacks which resulted in deaths of five US citizens, the Palestinian Sunni-Islamic terrorist group only claimed responsibility for one of them. The lawsuit itself is based on the Anti-Terrorism Act passed in 1992 which prohibits American businesses from giving out any material support and services to organizations that the US has designated as terrorist groups.
Facebook's representatives did not directly comment on the lawsuit but have stated that they're always sticking to their set of community standards for preventing abusive and terrorism-related content on the social network, adding that they "want people to feel safe" when using Facebook. The spokesperson also urged users to use Facebook's reporting tools if they happen to stumble upon content they believe is related to encouraging violence, hate speech, and terrorism in general. Interestingly enough, while Facebook has yet to respond to the lawsuit, Hamas already did. Sami Abu Zuhri, the terrorist group's spokesperson in Gaza stated that this is just the latest Israeli attempt to blackmail Facebook into becoming a spying tool against Palestinians.