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Sister of Slain Federal Officer Sues Facebook, Accusing Social Media Company of Promoting Violent Content and Connecting Alleged Killers Online

CNN

January 6, 2022

Facebook is the target of a new lawsuit from the sister of a slain federal officer who claims the tech giant’s algorithms and drive for revenue played an active role encouraging her brother’s alleged killers.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in California state court Thursday by Angela Underwood Jacobs, the sister of David Patrick Underwood, a federal protective services officer who was shot and killed outside a federal building in Oakland, California, in May 2020.

The lawsuit claims that the shooting by an alleged member of the Boogaloo extremist movement was “not a random act of violence,” but instead, “the culmination of an extremist plot hatched and planned on Facebook by two men.”

Jacobs’ lawyers from the law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll anticipate Facebook will seek immunity from the suit based on Section 230. While the original intent of the law was to foster startups and entrepreneurs by providing immunity for websites that provide platforms for third-party content, the continued existence of Section 230 in its current form has drawn great debate among lawmakers.

In an attempt to get around the shield of Section 230, the lawsuit argues that Facebook was aware of, and knowingly failed to warn users about, the role its algorithms play in boosting extremist content.

“We believe and intend to show that Facebook’s conduct has led to a rise in extremism throughout the world and acts of real-world violence, including the murder of Officer Underwood,” attorney Ted Leopold said in a statement. “It is time that Facebook is finally held accountable for its actions.”

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