The parents of one of the 20 children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting want to know why Mark Zuckerberg has made Facebook “a safe haven for hate.”
Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, whose 6-year-old son Noah Pozner was killed in the Newtown, Connecticut, attack spoke directly to the social network’s founder in an open letter published by the Guardian.
They write that “conspiracy groups and anti-government provocateurs” used Facebook to make claims that the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre was a hoax, saying the victims were “crisis actors” and that they must “find out the truth” about victims’ families.
“These claims and calls to action spread across Facebook like wildfire and, despite our pleas, were protected by Facebook,” said Pozner and De La Rosa.
The pair note that while Facebook dismisses the claims as “fake news” created by “fringe conspiracy groups,” they are living in hiding after enduring harassment and death threats online, on the phone and in person.
One of the abusers was sentenced to jail for threats she admitted to making as a result of claims made by one of the groups.
Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa cite the assurances Zuckerberg made regarding his efforts to battle disinformation on Facebook, but say those aren’t enough. They want the site’s policies to be altered so that victims of tragedies become protected groups and for those affected to have direct access to Facebook staff who’ll remove harassing posts.
They note that that founded HONR.com to help people targeted by online mobs as a result of “overt disregard shown by Facebook.”
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The social media giant said it removed one of the main Sandy Hook conspiracy theory groups, NBC reported last week, but Mashable says they found several such groups still on the site.
In April, Pozner and De La Rosa sued InfoWars’ Alex Jones, saying his conspiracy theories led to death threats and “intense emotional anguish,” Buzzfeed reported.
Earlier this week, the social network allowed Jones to use his page to livestream a rant in which he accused special counsel Robert Mueller of pedophilia and pantomimed shooting him. A Facebook spokesperson said that his action didn’t breach the social network’s community standards.
On Wednesday, YouTube took action against Jones over separate videos by removing them, as well as his ability to broadcast live to the site for 90 days.