On August 10, 2016, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, in Fields v. Twitter, Inc., dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint against Twitter with leave to amend. The plaintiffs’ complaint arose out of the deaths of Lloyd Fields, Jr. and James Damon Creach, two United States government contractors who were working at a law enforcement training center in Amman, Jordan. Fields and Creach were murdered at the hands of Anwar Abu Zaid, a Jordanian police captain who was inspired to commit the act after watching the ISIS execution of the Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh via a video that ISIS distributed through a Twitter account.
The plaintiffs’ claim alleged that Twitter violated parts of the Anti-Terrorism Act by knowingly provided material support to ISIS by permitting ISIS to use its social network as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda. Twitter’s primary argument for the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claim was the application of Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act (the “CDA”), which states that “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Twitter argued that since Twitter’s actions constituted publishing activity, the plaintiffs’ claim is barred by the CDA. Continue reading