The campaign, featuring a YouTube video (https://youtu.be/YfDSjoJDuxE) by Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, comes after the recent stabbing and car-ramming attack by an Ohio State University student, when investigators exposed the attacker’s Facebook rant urging people to follow the slain al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
That attack and video underscore Shurat HaDin’s lawsuits against Facebook, Cohen v. Facebook and Force v. Facebook, which are pending before Judge Nicholas Garafufis in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn. A hearing to decide whether those cases can proceed to trial is scheduled for January 19, 2017.
The video, “Who’s Behind Terror? Rewind!,” inspired by the movie “Memento,” opens with a slow-motion replay of a terrorist bomb attack in New York City, then rewinds time 10 minutes, then two hours, then 24 hours, then three months, to show the key moments when Facebook helped incite the terrorist to act.
“Facebook and other social media platforms have become a crucial component for international terror, the same as guns, bombs and money,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the founder of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center. “For years now, Facebook has continued to provide a platform for terrorist incitement despite repeated warnings. This has become one of today’s top global threats. Social media platforms want to believe terror has nothing to do with them and that they have unlimited immunity and can do whatever they want. We are going to put an end to it.”
Shurat HaDin’s first case against Facebook, Cohen v. Facebook, was filed in 2015 on behalf of 20,000 Israelis during the first weeks of the so-called “stabbing intifada,” after two Palestinians armed with a knife and gun attacked passengers on an Israeli bus. The case was originally named Lakin v. Facebook, but the case name was changed after one of the victims, Richard Lakin, succumbed to his wounds.
In this case, Shurat HaDin seeks to shut down terrorist pages on Facebook not because of their content but because by allowing this content, Facebook allegedly facilitates terrorism by providing services to terrorists. The case seeks an injunction forcing Facebook to actively monitor and block such pages, similarly to how banks block transactions with known terrorists.
In a second lawsuit, Force v. Facebook, Shurat HaDin seeks $1 billion in damages on behalf the families of five Israeli victims of the terrorist group Hamas. This case, under the U.S. Antiterrorism Act, charges Facebook with providing material support and resources to Hamas – which the U.S. has designated a “foreign terrorist organization” – in the form of Facebook services that the group used in carrying out terrorist actions.
“It is shocking that one could not transfer even one dollar to Hamas because banks know not to permit transactions with terrorists, but Hamas and known Hamas officials can open Facebook pages, and use Facebook to recruit terrorists and aggrandize terrorism,” said attorney Robert J. Tolchin, who represents the plaintiffs in Brooklyn as the local counsel for Shurat HaDin.
“Facebook’s sophisticated platform and services are used by terrorists for communication, logistics, intelligence, fundraising and even prestige,” Shurat HaDin said in filing the first lawsuit. “Facebook has the data and the capability to cease providing services to terrorists, and it has chosen not to do so.”