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Keeping Terrorists Out of Facebook Is a Tech Problem, Not a Legal One

A $1 billion lawsuit by victims of Middle East attacks is unlikely to succeed. But there may be a better way.

A lawsuit filed against Facebook Inc. on behalf of terrorism victims in Israel illustrates some of the complications of going to court to remedy violent radicalism. Fortunately, there’s a better way to address the problem of militants exploiting social media.

Lawyers for the victims sued Facebook in Manhattan federal court on Monday, seeking $1 billion in damages. They alleged that the U.S. company allowed Palestinian militants affiliated with Hamas, branded by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, to use the online service to plan attacks that killed four Americans and wounded another in Israel, the West Bank, and Jerusalem. "Simply put, Hamas uses Facebook as a tool for engaging in terrorism," the lawyers wrote. The suit alleged that Hamas has used Facebook to share operational information and instructions for carrying out attacks.