After a tragedy that impacted the town of Newton and the rest of the United States in such a shocking fashion, it was natural that victim’s families and their support groups would gravitate to places online that allow them to share their feelings.
Facebook was aware of this almost from the time that the tragedy occurred. They contacted the Attorney General in Connecticut and spent time discussing how they could help and ‘remain on the same page’ as the aftermath of the tragedy unfolded.
They were largely thereafter tasked with working on trying to ensure that posts on sites specific to the tragedy remained in conformance with company policies. Unfortunately, as time progressed, there were a small number of people that set up fraudulent tribute sites that were not authorized by the families, the victims, the school district, or the locality. Moreover, there were situations where tribute pages that were intended to be only positive towards the victims and heroes were hit by people that were indifferent, and not in a buy Facebook fans business fashion, to the feelings of those that suffered through it.
Just as the Holocaust caused certain groups of people to deny that it had even ever happened, the Newtown massacre caused a few people to band together as conspiracy theorists who surmised that the whole thing was staged. As this groups’ comments spilled over onto the tribute pages over the course of the past couple of months, it has caused the victims and their families to go into a slow burn over the inability of the online giant to censor those involved.
From Facebook’s point of view, they went to the correct people and provided them with a point of contact that would forever be the point person with regards to the tragedy.
Two months on, there appeared to be a bottleneck after victim’s families attempted to contact the company directly and were not able to get through to people who would satisfy them by applying their own policy and deleting comments or pages.
The victim’s families then went to their elected officials, three of which, their representative, Elizabeth Esty, and both US Senators from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, sent a public letter to Facebook asking them to be a little more aggressive in removing material offensive to those who had undergone the tragedy.
Facebook answered the same day, stating that they will start scrubbing data that has been deemed offensive.