72 Fla. L. Rev. 1329 (2020)
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Communications LawDomestic TerrorismInternet LawMedia Law

Abstract

Would the availability of a federal cause of action for domestic
terrorism increase the risk of social media providers being held liable for
facilitating domestic terrorism? Recently, there have been discussions
concerning the role social media plays in acts of domestic terrorism.
Many acts of domestic terrorism have been linked to the perpetrator’s
involvement with online groups who harbor similar goals.

There are several legislative obstacles to successfully suing a social
media provider for aiding an act of domestic terrorism. One obstacle is
the Antiterrorism Act of 1990 (ATA), which provides a civil remedy for
international terrorism but not domestic terrorism. There has been
increased discussion about the federal government’s disparate treatment
of domestic and foreign terrorism, with many scholars calling for the
federal government to treat these acts equally. Another obstacle is the
Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA), which shields social
media providers from liability for content they did not create. Recent
discussions and court decisions have indicated that changes to both the
ATA and the CDA may be coming. If these threshold barriers were
removed, the number of claims brought under the ATA would likely
increase.

Victims may attempt to sue social media providers for aiding domestic
terrorism, but one of the biggest obstacles to a successful claim is proving
proximate cause. This Note discusses the scientific basis for the
connection between social media use and acts of domestic terrorism and
analyzes whether this connection is strong enough to prove causation on
the part of the social media provider.