Facebook has agreed to removed "exploitative" Newtown tribute pages after a complaint from several lawmakers.
People leave Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut following the December shooting. UPI/John Angelillo
Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, addressed a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Monday calling on the company to take down unofficial memorial pages for victims of the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
A Facebook rep told ABC News that the social networking site had "been working closely" with the families of Sandy Hook victims on Facebook content related to the shooting, and had "dedicated staff" addressing the issue.
Blumenthal said Monday that Facebook had responded to the lawmakers' request and agreed to take down the pages. Blumenthal's office also told The Verge that Facebook was "eager" to begin removing offending pages.
In the letter, Blumental, Murphy and Esty referenced a Greenwich Time article about Sandy Hook family members like Donna Soto, the mother of 27-year-old Newtown victim Victoria Soto, who were upset by the content of some unofficial tribute pages dedicated to the victims.
"I understand some people have good intentions [and] some people say she is a public figure, but, to me, she is my daughter that was put in this awful position [and] she would never want to be a public figure and she would not want people making pages in her name," Soto said. "I know Vicki better than most and she would hate this."
While many tribute pages have good intentions, The Greenwich Time reported that page administrators weren't always able to moderate offensive comments.
Read part of the letter below:
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,
It has come to our attention that Facebook has received multiple requests from grieving Newtown families to remove Facebook pages being used to harass them or to exploit their loss. In the past several months, Facebook users have created hundreds of unofficial tribute pages dedicated to the victims of Sandy Hook. For example, The Greenwich Time reports over 100 tribute pages have been created using Victoria Soto’s name or likeness.
Many give the appearance they were created by loved ones in the names of the victims. Unfortunately, many of these pages have become vehicles for harassment, intimidation and possibly financial fraud.
Pages providing platforms for people to violate the privacy of families as they grieve, or seek financial gain through soliciting donations under false pretenses, or generating Facebook “likes” for marketing purposes, should not be given quarter in the Facebook community.
In the “Facebook Community Standards”, your company plainly states, “We ask that you refrain from publishing the personal information of others without their consent. Claiming to be another person, creating a false presence for an organization, or creating multiple accounts undermines community and violates Facebook’s terms.”
The Facebook terms of service also makes clear, “We can remove any content or information you post on Facebook if we believe that it violates this Statement or our policies.”
We ask that you direct your staff to remove the pages referred to in complaints by Donna Soto and Kaitlin Roig down for violating the above terms of service. If you do not believe these pages violate your terms of service, please detail in a written response why. If Facebook is already looking into this matter, please detail what you have done thus far to address the take-down requests from of Donna Soto and Kaitlin Roig. Our staff and we will be pleased to work with appropriate Facebook officials to address these issues affecting the Soto and Roig families, and others who may be affected by such abusive, unacceptable practices.