The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. sparked an outpouring of sympathy and affection both in real life and on the Internet. A few months after the December tragedy, however, some lawmakers and families are worried about other, less than noble intentions.
Connecticut state officials, along with the state's attorney general, are worried about the numerous Facebook tribute pages cropping up concerning Sandy Hook victims. Many are not created by individuals with any close connection to the victims, and others even seek donations without specifying a cause.
Despite some prickly issues concerning free speech, Facebook has agreed to remove "rogue" tribute pages, according to Greenwich Time.
Before agreeing to do so, a Facebook spokesman was only willing to say that it "will remove any page that is threatening or harassing, or violates our terms."
On Monday, Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and Representative Elizabeth Esty called on Facebook to delete offensive tribute pages that could be hurting families and deceiving other users.
George Jepsen, the state's attorney general, even met with Facebook to discuss the situation.
"I appreciate Facebook's responsiveness, and I have emphasized to Facebook that it must be sensitive to the concerns of the Newtown families," said Jepsen in a statement to the Oxford Patch.
The controversy emerged after it was revealed that there have been more than 100 tribute pages constructed referring to a victim named Victoria Soto, a teacher who died shielding her students from gunfire. Donna Soto, the victim's mother, tried to contact Facebook about the situation to no avail, and her personal appeals to the page creators were unsuccessful.
While it's difficult to imagine Facebook scrubbing all Sandy Hook tribute pages, there are some truly reprehensible ones whose purpose seems only to enflame. One page in particular was titled, "Satan Loves Me R.I.P. Victora Soto." Other pages have been taken over by conspiracy theorists who believe the Newtown tragedy is a hoax, and still more ask for donations but refuse to say where the money is headed.
"To think that Sandy Hook was a hoax and or to capitalize on someone else's grief is not something any of the families directly affected by this horrific incident need," said Soto. "We are grieving our loved ones, and my family and I are glad Facebook has finally, after two months, recognized that by agreeing to remove the unauthorized sites. Vicki Soto and the other 25 victims deserve this much respect."