Facebook Sued for $1 Billion in U.S. by Relatives of Palestinian Attack Victims

Faebook Inc has been accused of allegedly facilitating deadly Palestinian militant attacks on their loved ones by a group of Israelis and Americans who have also filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking $1 billion in damages from one of the the largest social media platform operators of the world.

Facebook has been accused of helping Hamas militants operate by relatives of four Israeli-U.S. dual nationals and one visiting U.S. citizen who died in attacks in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or the occupied West Bank between 2014 and 2016, who are also the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Facebook “knowingly provided material support and resources to Hamas … facilitat(ing) this terrorist group’s ability to communicate, recruit members, plan and carry out attacks, and strike fear in its enemies” argued the lawsuit that has been filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

A company representative in Israel said the company wanted “people to feel safe” when using Facebook and the company said that it stood by its regulations for preventing abusive content even though the social media giant did not respond directly to the lawsuit and the allegations made in the case.

“There is no place for content encouraging violence, direct threats, terrorism or hate speech on Facebook. We have a set of Community Standards … and we urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate and take swift action,” Facebook said.

Earlier this week the social media giant had come used severe criticism from Israel’s security minister as the minister and the government was of the view that Facebook’s reluctance to help track potential Palestinian militants and curb incitement to violence and the private lawsuit follows this censure from Israel. Facebook defended its regulations against online abuse in response.

Responsibility for one of the attacks cited in the lawsuit has been formally claimed by Hamas. They had expert assessments linking Hamas to the other attacks, said the plaintiffs’ Israeli lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.

The United States has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. The 1992 Anti-Terrorism Act that prohibits American businesses from providing any material support, including services, to designated terrorist groups and their leaders was used as the basis for filing of the lawsuit.

Accusing Israel of trying to turn the social network into a spy tool against Palestinians, Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, called the lawsuit an Israeli attempt to blackmail Facebook.

“Pride” has been expressed at the killing of Palestinians on Facebook and other social media by some Israeli politicians and soldiers, he said.

“The real test for the owners of Facebook is to reject this (Israeli) pressure,” Abu Zuhri said.

To stop Facebook from carrying alleged Palestinian incitement, a class action suit was filed for an injunction against Facebbok in October by Darshan-Leitner, of the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center. She said proceedings were still under way in that case.

(Adapted from Reuters)

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