Sandy Hook parents press Zuckerberg to address harassment, disinformation on Facebook

The parents of a child who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting wrote to Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, pleading with the Facebook founder and CEO to better address the spread of disinformation and the harassment they and other victims face on the social media platform.

Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa wrote an open letter in The Guardian in which they chastised Zuckerberg for his failure to remove groups and content that promote conspiracy theories. Sandy Hook families, in particular, have been targeted by fringe groups such as Infowars, which falsely claim the shooting never took place or was a “false flag” operation.

{mosads}”Our families are in danger as a direct result of the hundreds of thousands of people who see and believe the lies and hate speech, which you have decided should be protected,” Pozner and De La Rosa wrote. 

Their son, Noah, was killed when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012. He was 6 years old.

“What makes the entire situation all the more horrific is that 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,” the parents wrote.

They add that they think Zuckerberg’s actions have shown that he believes “removing threats is too cumbersome, and that our lives are less important than providing a safe haven for hate.”

Pozner and De La Rosa provided a recommendation to Zuckerberg for policing disinformation and harassment at victims of tragedy.

They suggested victims of mass shootings and other tragedies should be considered a “protected group” on the platform and that those individuals have access to Facebook staff who can quickly remove hateful posts.

“Facebook plays a mammoth role in exposing the world’s masses to information. That level of power comes with the tremendous responsibility of ensuring that your platform is not used to harm others or contribute to the proliferation of hate,” they wrote.

Zuckerberg has faced intense criticism over his platform’s handling of hate speech and conspiracy theories. 

The company has said that despite taking down videos and other content pushing hoaxes and banning repeat offenders, Alex Jones’s Infowars account doesn’t qualify for a ban from the platform.

Despite criticism for this stance, Facebook says that hoax stories alone are not violations of its rules.

Zuckerberg said in an interview last week that it’s difficult for the platform to ban accounts that push conspiracy theories, such as holocaust denials, because it is “hard to impugn intent” from those users.

Tags Alt-right Conspiracy theories Facebook Mark Zuckerberg Sandy Hook shooting Social media
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