A group of Americans and Israelis have filed a lawsuit against social network company Facebook for its alleged facilitation of deadly militant attacks carried out by Palestinian forces that killed their loved ones.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the relatives of four U.S.-Israeli dual nationals and a visiting U.S. citizen who were killed in attacks on Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or the West Bank between 2014 and 2016.
The lawsuit, which seeks $1 billion in damages, accused Facebook of providing resources and material support to the Hamas group. It was alleged that through the social network, the militants were able to recruit new members, share tactical and operational information, and communicate with each other regarding planned attacks.
"Simply put, Hamas uses Facebook as a tool for engaging in terrorism," the lawsuit claimed. The United States, the European Union and Israel consider the Hamas as a terrorist organization.
In a response to the lawsuit, Facebook said that it is looking to provide users with the feeling of safety when using the social network. As such, there would be no place on the social network for content that encourages terrorism, violence, threats or hate speech, as set in the site's community standards.
Facebook is urging its users to utilize the social network's reporting tools whenever they come across any content that would be in violation of these community standards. Facebook will then swiftly investigate the reported content, and will take necessary action if needed.
The lawsuit against Facebook over its alleged support of terrorism comes a week after Gilad Erdan, the Minister of Internal Security for Israel, called the social network a "monster," as he accused Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg of not making enough effort to take down and ban abusive content on the platform. Erdan was referring to violence being posted by Palestinians against Israelis.
According to online terrorism expert Gabriel Weimann from Haifa University, however, the development of new technology will be more effective in the prevention of the usage of social media for violence compared with lawsuits.
Weimann said that the emphasis should be on the development of methods to quickly track violent and terrorist content on platforms so that they will be immediately blocked before they propagate.
"Facebook isn't the only platform," said Weimann. "There are plenty of others. What will you do? Sue them all?"
The lawsuit launched against Facebook will also have to hurdle the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which gives platforms and communications providers such as Facebook immunity from the content that passes through the service that they provide.