Five Israeli and American families on Monday filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Facebook, claiming the social network is providing a platform for militants to spread incitement and violence, according to Israeli media reports.
Shurat Hadin, an Israeli legal advocacy group, filed the suit on behalf of the five families in a New York court late Sunday, alleging that Facebook is violating the US Anti-Terrorism Act by providing a service to militant groups that assists them in “recruiting, radicalizing, and instructing terrorists, raising funds, creating fear and carrying out attacks.”
The lawsuit focuses on the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) which has fought three wars with Israel.
The five families in the lawsuit lost relatives in attacks over the last two years. Four were dual Israeli-American citizens while one victim was an American tourist.
“Facebook can’t sit in its stone tower in Palo Alto while blood is being spilled here on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It has a social responsibility. It can’t serve as a social network for Hamas,” said , the Israeli lawyer who is representing the families.
She compared Facebook to a bank, saying just as money may be transferred as a service for terror groups, so can content.
There was no immediate comment from Facebook.
Israel says the violence is being fueled by a Palestinian campaign of incitement on social media while the Palestinians see it as the result of frustration over nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation and a lack of hope for their own state.
Since mid-September, 34 Israelis and two American tourists have been killed in Palestinian attacks. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed during the same time. The majority of the Palestinians are claimed by Israel to have been attackers. The rest were killed in clashes with Israeli troops.
Shurat Hadin has challenged Facebook in courts in the past. Last year, it demanded an injunction to have Facebook remove and block incitement to violence. A decision is pending.