Israeli Nonprofit Brings $1B Suit Against Facebook

Israeli Nonprofit Brings $1B Suit Against Facebook

Shurat HaDin (the Israel Law Center) has launched a social media campaign to gain support for a $1 billion lawsuit against the king of social media, Facebook.

The Tel Aviv-based nonprofit organization specializes in fighting terrorists in court. Its successes have included a $655 million jury award in New York in 2015 against the Palestinian Authority for supporting terrorism during the second intifada.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner leads Shurat HaDin: Israel Law Center.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner leads Shurat HaDin: Israel Law Center.

“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, who spoke to the Jewish Women’s Connection of Atlanta in March. “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.”

The online campaign in support of the legal action features a YouTube video ( depicting how a terrorist uses Facebook. The campaign was launched Monday, Dec. 5, exactly one week after an Ohio State University student launched an attack on the campus by ramming people with his vehicle and stabbing others.

That attacker, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, had posted a Facebook rant urging people to follow the teachings of slain al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki.

Shurat HaDin has two lawsuits against Facebook: Cohen vs. Facebook and Force vs. Facebook. Both are pending before U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garafufis in New York. A hearing to decide whether those cases may proceed to trial is scheduled for Jan. 19.

Cohen vs. Facebook was filed in 2015 on behalf of 20,000 Israelis during the first weeks of the “stabbing intifada” after two Palestinians armed with a knife and gun attacked passengers on an Israeli bus. The case was Lakin vs. Facebook until victims Richard Lakin died of his wounds.

Shurat HaDin is seeking an injunction forcing Facebook to actively monitor and block pages that provide services to terrorists, just as banks must monitor and block transactions with known terrorists.

In Force vs. Facebook, Shurat HaDin seeks $1 billion in damages on behalf the families of five Israeli victims of Hamas under the U.S. Antiterrorism Act. Facebook is accused of providing material support and resources to Hamas, a designated “foreign terrorist organization,” in the form of Facebook services.

The Shurat HaDin video, “Who’s Behind Terror? Rewind!,” opens with a slow-motion replay of a terrorist bombing in New York, then rewinds time 10 minutes, then two hours, then 24 hours, then three months to show the key moments of Facebook incitement of the terrorist act.

Facebook joined Microsoft, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube in a statement Monday, Dec. 5, pledging to help stop the online spread of terrorist content.

“We commit to the creation of a shared industry database of “hashes” — unique digital “fingerprints” — for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images that we have removed from our services. By sharing this information with each other, we may use the shared hashes to help identify potential terrorist content on our respective hosted consumer platforms. We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online,” the statement reads.

Shurat HaDin said that effort is a step in the right direction but is too little, too late.

“This won’t undo the harm it has already caused to the victims of terrorism. Facebook should absolutely move forward with this database to share digital markers and remove terrorist content, but it’s no substitute for shutting down terrorists’ social media accounts. Social media platforms should be denying services to terrorists – and should be held accountable for aiding, abetting and inciting terrorism,” Darshan-Leitner said.

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