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Families of the San Bernardino terrorist attack victims have filed a lawsuit against Facebook, Google and Twitter

They contend that the tech industry and its practices have been “instrumental to the rise of ISIS.”

Mass Shooting In San Bernardino Leaves At Least 14 Dead
The FBI collects evidence following the San Bernardino shooting in December 2015.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Family members of three victims in the deadly 2015 terrorist attack on a San Bernardino, Calif., health facility filed a lawsuit this week against Twitter, Facebook and Google, alleging that they “knowingly and recklessly provided the terrorist group ISIS with accounts” and aid in the spread extremism.

In their complaint, the families told a federal court that the three social platforms — in failing to monitor profiles and take action against extremist accounts — had helped ISIS “raise funds, recruit and conduct terrorist operations,” including the attack that killed 14 about a year and a half ago.

“This material support has been instrumental to the rise of ISIS and has enabled it to carry out or cause to be carried out, numerous terrorist attacks, including the December 2, 2015, attack in San Bernadino,” they allege.

Concerning Twitter, for example, the families point out the flood of ISIS-related accounts on the platform in recent years. About Facebook, they contend that the San Bernardino shooters, including Tashfeen Malik, had declared their allegiance to ISIS in a previous Facebook post. As for Google, they allege that it essentially helps fund ISIS through advertisements that run before YouTube videos.

Spokespeople for all three companies did not immediately comment for this story.

The attack in December 2015 ignited fierce debate about the role of the tech industry in protecting national security. In the months after the attack, then-President Barack Obama and others in Washington pushed Silicon Valley to play a greater role in policing its platforms for potential threats. While companies have made progress, combatting radical organizations remains a major challenge. Google, in particular, has faced blowback from brands whose ads have appeared alongside extremist content.

Others in government would like to see tech companies make it easier for law enforcement to access their services and devices. That stance led to another court spat between the FBI and Apple, as investigators sought to force the company to crack a password-protected iPhone tied to the attack. Ultimately, the FBI gained entry into the device on its own.

Families of victims of other attacks similarly have taken aim at the tech industry. The relatives of a woman who was killed during the 2015 attack in Paris sued Facebook, Google and Twitter last year, specifically citing the fact they profited from ads on extremist videos. A number of families sued the same companies in March following the deadly June 2016 attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

This article originally appeared on

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