The parents of one of the children killed during the shooting at Sandy Hook want Mark Zuckerberg to answer for Facebook’s policies.
Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, whose son Noah was killed in 2012, blasted Facebook’s top executive in an open letter that was published by The Guardian. At issue is Facebook’s policy around fake news and conspiracy theories, many of which target the families of victims of mass shootings.
“We have had to wage an almost inconceivable battle with Facebook to provide us with the most basic of protections to remove the most offensive and incendiary content,” they wrote in the letter.
“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,” they continued. “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.”
Pozner and De La Rosa said they have had to move as the result of targeted harassment, and that their complaints to Facebook have fallen on deaf ears.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said that victims and their families do have access to “channels through which they can reach out to people at Facebook.”
Facebook has said it will remove hate speech and posts that claim shooting victims are crisis actors, but it has very publicly defended its decision to let Infowars remain on its platform, even though the site is one of the best-known purveyors of Sandy Hook conspiracy theories.
“We don’t allow people to mock, harass or bully the victims of tragedies. This includes the types of claims in the letter that victims are crisis actors,” Facebook said in a statement.
The company told NBC last week that it had pulled one of the largest Sand Hook hoax groups, which had been around for years. But there are still a number of Facebook pages created to spread conspiracy theories about Sandy Hook that have not been removed by Facebook. A quick search revealed at least eight such groups remain online.
Facebook did not respond to followup questions about whether these pages are in line with the company’s policies.
Pozner and De La Rosa want Facebook to designate shooting victims and their families as a protected group and provide them with access to staffers who can address threats and hate speech quickly.
“After feeling so much hope following your pledge in the Senate to make Facebook a safer and more hospitable place for social interaction, we are once again feeling let down by your recent comments supporting a safe harbor for Holocaust deniers and hate groups that attack victims of tragedy,” they wrote.
You can read the full letter at The Guardian.