- A lawsuit named Facebook’s Meta and a Russian oligarch and accused them of “radicalizing” a killer.
- The family of a state senator Dylann Roof killed in the 2015 Charleston massacre filed the suit.
- A judge sentenced Roof to death in 2017 after he shot and killed nine Black people.
Facebook’s parent company Meta and a Russian billionaire who founded the notorious Wagner Group have been named in a lawsuit accusing them of “radicalizing” the killer in the Charleston church shooting.
Jennifer Pinckney, wife of state senator Clementa Pinckney who died during the 2015 massacre, and their daughter filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, accusing Facebook and Yevgeny Prigozhin of exposing the killer to white-supremacist propaganda, court papers show.
“Because the algorithms recommend that susceptible users join extremist groups, where users are conditioned to post even more inflammatory and divisive content, Facebook is naturally open to exploitation by white-supremacist groups and racial hate-mongerers,” the lawsuit said.
It added: “Jennifer Pinckney and her teenage daughter bring this action to obtain some degree of justice from these Defendants and to reassure all African Americans living in the United States that they are entitled to the constitutional protections.”
Dylann Roof, 28, is a white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and mass murderer who a judge convicted on 33 charges for the shooting, which took place on June 17, 2015 at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he had been invited for Bible study.
He was sentenced to death in 2017 for the murder of nine Black people. No date has been set for Roof’s death; he can still appeal the ruling.
The Pinckneys accuse Prigozhin’s Kremlin-based Internet Research Agency of working “toward a common strategic goal to sow division among the racial and ethnic groups in the United States; to cause discord and upset the US political system; and to undermine faith in US democratic institutions, including by inflaming social and political polarization.”
Prigozhin set up Wagner Group — a Russian mercenary organization accused of committing war crimes and human-rights abuses — in 2014. It has been active recently in Ukraine, Syria, and African countries. The Russian billionaire, who reportedly confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin on the war in Ukraine, was once charged with interfering in US politics.
He oversaw and approved the purchase of American computer-server space, the creation of hundreds of fictitious online personas, and the use of stolen identities of US citizens. He was accused of attempting to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
In February 2018, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Prigozhin in the US District Court for Washington, DC, after he was charged with conspiracy to defraud the US.
Meta declined to comment for this story. Prigozhin didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The US Justice Department previously agreed on a settlement with the families of those Roof killed in Charleston.
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