Twitter v. Taamneh (U.S. Supreme Court, 2023)
In this case, relatives of a victim of a 2017 ISIS terror attack allege that Twitter and other social media platforms aided and abetted an act of international terrorism and are secondarily liable under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) because the platforms allowed ISIS to use their platforms to recruit members, issue terrorist threats, spread propaganda, fundraise, and intimidate civilian populations. ADL’s brief highlights how terrorists and terrorist organizations use social media to advance their agendas and commit acts of terror and cites our expertise on countering hate and extremism, as well as our research on the role platform algorithms and recommendation engines play in exacerbating extremism, leading to offline harm and even mass violence. We ask the Court to affirm the Ninth’s Circuit’s interpretation of aiding-and-abetting liability and reject an overly narrow interpretation of the ATA that would prevent victims of terror from seeking any redress from social media companies that aid and abet terrorism unless they can demonstrate that a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) used particular support and resources to commit a specific terrorist attack. The extremely narrow interpretation proposed by social media platforms would render the ATA dead letter because it is rarely possible to meet this exceedingly high standard. We take no position as to the legal sufficiency of the allegations against Twitter, or the ultimate merit of the claims. Still, liability under the ATA for aiding-and-abetting terrorism should not be so narrowly construed as to eliminate any possibility of holding social media platforms, or other global businesses, accountable if they are found to have knowingly provided substantial assistance to FTOs.