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Facebook Terror Accusers Say Zuckerberg Testimony Bolsters Suits

Patricia Hurtado
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., waits to begin a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 11, 2018. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Victims of terrorist attacks who sued Facebook Inc. for incendiary postings say Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony last week should allow them to have another day in court.

The plaintiffs representing more than 20,000 victims and their families accused the social-media company of helping terrorist groups in the Middle East, such as Hamas. U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, New York, dismissed the suits in May citing a U.S. law insulates publishers.

They have appealed, but the court put its review on hold pending the outcome of a Supreme Court case regarding Microsoft Corp. The plaintiffs asked the court on Monday to send their suits back to court in light of Zuckerberg’s testimony.

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"It’s startling that Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony so blatantly contradicts the positions that Facebook’s attorneys have been arguing in court," said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. "The social media giant has long been deeply involved in editing and manipulating the content on its platform, and has had the technology to block the incitement of terrorism as the plaintiffs in our cases contend."

Facebook’s founder told Congress that the company "is responsible for the content" on its site and uses algorithms to remove terrorist and other incendiary content. The company expects to increase its staff of professional censors to 20,000 by the end of this year, he said.

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Representatives of Facebook didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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