In an open letter published by the Guardian, The parents of several of the children slain in the Sandy Hook shooting took Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to task over Facebook’s policy regarding the proliferation of fake news and conspiracy theories, many of which have targeted the Sandy Hook shooting since it occurred in 2012. In the years since the shooting, the parents claimed to have struggled with getting the “most basic of protections to remove the most offensive and incendiary content.”
Since the Sandy Hook shooting, right-wing conspiracy theorists have alleged that the entire thing was staged to push through new gun control legislation and persecute gun owners. Others have gone as far as to suggest that when Adam Lanza killed 20 children and his own mother, he was actually drugged by his government handlers.
“While you implied that Facebook would act more quickly to take down harassment directed at Sandy Hook victims than, say, the posts of Holocaust deniers, that is not our experience,” wrote Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, whose son Noah was killed at Sandy Hook. “In fact, you went on to suggest that this type of content would continue to be protected and that your idea for combatting incendiary content was to provide counterpoints to push ‘fake news’ lower in search results. Of course, this provides no protection to us at all.”
What’s worse is that the unchecked production of this kind of content isn’t just painful for the family to watch; it actually makes it harder for them to live anywhere. Ponzer and De La Rosa have even had to move due to ongoing threats from conspiracy theorists. While Facebook says that they will remove any hate speech and will not “allow people to mock, harass or bully the victims of tragedies,” they’ve made no effort to remove the likes of Alex Jones —the controversial host of the show Infowars — who regularly claims that those involved in Sandy Hook are just crisis actors. Jones has actually already been sued by the parents of Sandy Hook victims in April for suggesting that they lied about the deaths of their children.
Though Facebook pulled down the second largest Sandy Hook Conspiracy page just last week, Pozner and De La Rosa don’t think enough has been done yet.
“…we are unable to properly grieve for our baby or move on with our lives because you, arguably the most powerful man on the planet, have deemed that the attacks on us are immaterial,” They wrote. “…that providing assistance in removing threats is too cumbersome, and that our lives are less important than providing a safe haven for hate.”