Judge dismisses lawsuits against Facebook, Google, Twitter over San Bernardino shooting

Families of the victims alleged the internet companies knowingly allowed terrorist activity to take place on their platforms.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
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A federal judge has dismissed lawsuits that alleged Facebook , Google and Twitter were liable for a mass shooting that took place in San Bernardino, California in December 2015.

In a decision Monday, Judge Laurel Beeler of the District Court for the Northern District of California said the attack wasn't a direct result of social media and internet companies allegedly letting the Islamic State use their platforms.

In December 2015, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and injured 22 others at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California. Terrorist groups inspired the mass shooting, but weren't involved in planning or directing it, the FBI has said.

The plaintiffs here "have not pleaded that [the defendants'] provision of communication equipment to ISIS … had any direct relationship with the injuries that [the plaintiffs] suffered," Beeler wrote in the order.  "There is no connection between the provision of their online platforms and the plaintiffs' injuries. In short, there is no proximate cause."

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Twitter and Facebook declined to comment.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs didn't immediately respond to a request for comment but told Reuters the decision wasn't a surprise.

Family members of the San Bernardino shooting victims in May 2017 sued the Silicon Valley giants for knowingly allowing terrorist activity to take place on their online platforms. The three companies were also unsuccessfully sued in December 2016 by the families of three of the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting. Federal law protects companies from liability for content posted by users.

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