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Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Relatives of Pulse mass shooting victims sued Facebook, Google and Twitter for aiding ISIS


Relatives of three victims of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando have sued Facebook, Google and Twitter for giving "material support" to ISIS, USA Today reports.

The lawsuit, filed in Michigan by the families of Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes and Juan Ramon Guerrero, claims those tech companies have made it too easy for ISIS to spread its message.

"The explosive growth of ISIS over the past few years... would not have been possible [without those companies]," the lawsuit reads.

The Twitter logo appears at the post where it trades, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, June 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
The Twitter logo appears at the post where it trades, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, June 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The lawsuit faces an uphill battle -- federal law protects publishers from liability for others' speech. In other words, it may be hard to prove Twitter is responsible for allowing ISIS members to use Twitter. 

FILE - In this June 12, 2016 file photo, law enforcement officials work at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., following a mass shooting. Police negotiators talking to gunman Omar Mateen at first weren't sure if the person they had on the phone was actually in the Pulse nightclub, according to audio recordings released Monday, Oct. 31, after a judge ruled they should be made public. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

But the lawsuit claims the tech companies are liable because of profit-sharing and advertising. The plaintiffs allege the companies combine ISIS posts with ads that target specific viewers, which may count as creating original content.

Background on the shooting

The shooting in June left 50 people dead, including gunman Omar Mateen.  Dozens more were injured. Mateen was not officially a member of ISIS but had been inspired by the group.

The owner of the nightclub, Barbara Poma, briefly entertained the idea of selling the club to the city to create a memorial, but opted not to, saying she intends to "create a space for everyone, a sanctuary of hope."

Should Facebook, Google and Twitter be held accountable for the Pulse shooting?

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