Officials press Facebook over Newtown postings

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm •  Published: February 25, 2013
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Facebook offered assurances Monday that the social media site is removing some posts and so-called tribute pages related to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting over concerns they're being used to exploit the tragedy.

Echoing complaints already brought by some Sandy Hook families and state officials, Connecticut's two U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty requested the removal of offending pages in a letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg Monday morning.

The lawmakers said some pages purportedly set up to honor the victims of the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown have been used to exploit or harass the victims' families and could be used as vehicles for financial fraud. State Attorney General George Jepsen said his office raised similar concerns with Facebook over the weekend.

Jodi Seth, a Facebook spokesperson, said in a statement that the company has been working closely since December with Jepsen's office, the families and their representatives to respond quickly to concerns with dedicated staff handling complaints over Sandy Hook pages.

Seth said Facebook wants to respond quickly "while also recognizing that people across the country want to express grief for a terrible national tragedy."

"We will continue to be vigilant," Seth said in a statement.

In Monday's letter, the lawmakers many pages still online appear to violate Facebook's own terms of use, which prohibit users from creating accounts for anyone other than themselves. They said more than 100 pages are dedicated just one of the victims, slain teacher Victoria Soto.

Some of those contain postings from conspiracy theorists who claim the shootings were staged, and that Soto and others were actors.

"Certainly there have been many, too many, of these pages that are intimidating or harassing or exploitive," U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said. "I'm pleased that Facebook has responded positively."

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