Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: May 18, 2023
  • Case #: No. 21-1496
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Thomas, J. delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. Jackson, J., filed a concurring opinion.
  • Full Text Opinion

The phrase “aids and abets” in §2333(d)(2), as elsewhere, refers to a conscious, voluntary, and culpable participation in another’s wrongdoing.

Alassaf was killed by a member of ISIS at the Reina nightclub in Turkey. Under 18 U.S.C. § 2333(d)(2), “any person who aids and abets, by knowingly providing substantial assistance” can be held civilly liable for damages by United States nationals injured by acts of international terrorism. Alassaf’s family (“Petitioner”) invoked this statute and sued Facebook, Google and Twitter (“Respondents”) for aiding and abetting ISIS. Petitioner argued that ISIS used Respondents’ platforms to recruit, raise money and Respondents knew ISIS was doing that and failed to stop them. The District Court’s dismissal for failure to state a claim was reversed by the Ninth Circuit.  The Court held that the phrase “aids and abets” “refers to a conscious, voluntary, and culpable participation in another’s wrongdoing.” The Court used Halberstam’s six factors to reason a failure to act was not “substantial.” Halberstam v. Welch, 705 F. 2d 472 (CADC 1983). Respondents’ liability for aiding and abetting required that they “knew they were playing some sort of role in ISIS’ enterprise,” which was not evidenced by the record. Respondents’ algorithms were too passive to be considered “aiding and abetting.” The Court concluded that Petitioner did not establish an adequate nexus between Respondents and the Reina attack and therefore failed to state a claim. REVERSED.

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