Parents of Sandy Hook Victim Writes Open Letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg - NBC Bay Area

Parents of Sandy Hook Victim Writes Open Letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

"These claims and calls to action spread across Facebook like wildfire and, despite our pleas, were protected by Facebook," the letter read

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    Parents of Sandy Hook Victim Writes Open Letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
    John Woike/Hartford Courant/MCT via Getty Images
    Sign posted at the Abraham L. Green & Son Funeral Home in Fairfield, Connecticut, as folks lined up for the funeral of Noah Pozner on Monday, December 17, 2012.

    The parents of a mass shooting victim in Newtown, Connecticut, are calling on Facebook to help protect them from harassment they have to endure from people who believe the elementary school shooting that killed 26 people, mostly children, did not happen.

    In an open letter published by The Guardian, Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, parents of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, described being harassed and receiving death threats right after the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school on Dec. 12, 2012. 

    Conspiracy groups have been claiming that the deaths of 20 elementary school aged students were fake and their parents are actors. 

    "These claims and calls to action spread across Facebook like wildfire and, despite our pleas, were protected by Facebook," the letter read.

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    Pozner and De La Rosa's letter comes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's interview with Recode, where he said the company's goal is not to prevent someone from saying something untrue but to stop fake news from spreading across the social network.

    Zuckerberg gave the example of the Holocaust, saying he doesn't think Holocaust deniers are "intentionally" getting it wrong.

    He later tried to explain his words, saying in an email to Recode's Kara Swisher that he personally finds "Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn't intend to defend the intent of people who deny that."

    Still, Facebook's policy remains unchanged.

    Pozner and De La Rosa asked in their letter for Facebook to "treat victims of mass shootings and other tragedies as a protected group" and to provide affected people with access to Facebook staff who can remove hateful and harassing posts against victims.

    They argued that Facebook's idea of combating fake news by pushing incendiary content lower in search results doesn't work because the shooting happened in 2012 and there aren't the same amount of posts about the victims of the massacre.

    "Our son Noah no longer has a voice, nor will he ever get to live out his life. His absence is felt every day. But 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, that providing assistance in removing threats is too cumbersome, and that our lives are less important than providing a safe haven for hate," Pozner and De La Rosa wrote.

    Facebook stood by its policy and said that the company doesn't allow attacks against victims of mass shooting and other tragedies.

    "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," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to NBC Bay Area.

    "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," and there are channels through which victims of attacks can reach out to people at Facebook, the spokesperson said.

    Lies about the Sandy Hook victims have been recently recirculated by radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The families of the victims have sued Jones for defamation after he claimed the shooting was a hoax and the relatives are paid actors.

    Pozner and De La Rosa said they've relocated several times to protect themselves and their other children from abusers, one of which was sentence to jail for death threats because she believed in the fake content created by one of the "fringe groups."

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