The family of a young woman killed in a Paris terror attack two years ago is accusing social media of helping fuel such attacks in what could be a groundbreaking lawsuit, which went before a judge Thursday.
The controversial case involves the family of Long Beach college student Nohemi Gonzalez, whose death in the coordinated Paris terror attacks in November 2015 came just as her professional career was about to begin. Gonzalez was studying in Paris at the time and was one of 130 people killed in the attack.
"ISIS could not exist if not for social media," said Keith Altman, attorney for the Gonzalez family.
The lawsuit, which was filed a little more than a year ago, names Google, Twitter and Facebook. On Thursday, a federal judge in Oakland heard arguments in the case from both sides.
The family claims the social media giants allowed terrorist propaganda on their sites, making it easy for the groups to grow and carry out attacks such as those that occurred in Paris.
"These companies enable ISIS to do what they need to do and then stand back and say they were not responsible," Altman said.
The social media companies say the suit should not go forward because it has no merit and because their sites work to always identify and delete extremist material.
The companies also are standing behind the Communications Decency Act, which says internet sites cannot be held liable for content provided by others on their site.
But another attorney for the family says that law wont hold up in court.
"The power of that tool is a thousand times greater than the power of the printing press," attorney Robert Tolchin said. "So this is a completely new animal."
The judge can take as long as needed to decide if the case will go to trial or will be dismissed.