The parents of a child who died at the Sandy Hook massacre are imploring Mark Zuckerberg to work harder to remove conspiracy theories and fake news – especially given that they are targets.
In an open letter published by The Guardian, Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa - whose six year old son Noah died in the shooting in 2012 - outline the harassment and death threats that have forced multiple relocations onto the family.
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.
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 as to provide counterpoints to push ‘fake news’ lower in search results. Of course, this provides no protection to us at all.
'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,’ they continued.
The social media giant told NBC news that it removed one of the biggest Sandy Hook hoax groups on Facebook, but there are still a number of pages that spread such hoaxes available.
Zuckerberg attracted a fresh wave of criticism after he told NBCthat Facebook would allow Holocaust deniers a community on the platform.
I just don't think that it is the right thing to say, 'We're going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times.’
What we will do is we'll say, 'OK, you have your page, and if you're not trying to organize harm against someone or attacking someone, then you can put up that content on your page, even if people might disagree with it or find it offensive.’
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 harbour for Holocaust deniers and hate groups that attack victims of tragedy.
indy100 reached out to Facebook about this matter.
A spokesperson told us:
Our hearts go out to Leonard and Veronique and all families who have lost people as a result of senseless shootings.
Although we do see people come together on Facebook in very positive ways around tragedies, some of what we see is truly abhorrent and represents the worst of the internet and humanity.
We recognise victims of mass shootings and other tragedies are vulnerable to offensive and incendiary comments, and we don’t allow attacks against them. For example, 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. We also don’t allow people to celebrate, justify or defend the tragedy in any way.
We want to make ourselves available to victims and families and be responsive to their needs in a way that’s best and easiest for them. We do have channels through which they can reach out to people at Facebook. Following tragedies, victims and families have used these channels to escalate content to us and raise questions and concerns.
It’s important to get this right and we know we can always do better here.