Sandy Hook ‘truthers’ are abusing victims — but one family is fighting back with creative legal maneuver
Family members of a first-grade teacher killed in the Sandy Hook massacre have applied to trademark her name to prevent conspiracy theorists from misusing it on social media.
Victoria Soto helped students hide and tried to shield others as a gunman killed 20 children and six women during the December 2012 rampage.
Eleven students in Soto’s classroom survived, but the gunman killed the 27-year-old teacher.
Soto’s sister said Sandy Hook “truthers,” who believe the government staged or faked the shootings to usher in gun control laws, have set up phony social media accounts using the teacher’s name to promote their conspiracy theories, reported The Guardian.
A family friend who helps them manage their social media accounts said she must fill out a form and send it to Twitter each time they discover an unauthorized or abusive account.
Some of those accounts have been used to harass Soto’s relatives, the sister said.
At least one account, which purports to have been online “WAY BEFORE #Sandyhoax,” continues to use Soto’s name to promote conspiracy theories about the school shooting.
Jillian Soto said the phony accounts interfere with fundraising for the Vicki Soto Memorial Fund, which provides scholarships to education students.
Relatives hope trademark protection will help speed up the process for shutting down unauthorized social media accounts and other abuse.
The Connecticut Attorney General’s office said it has not received any formal complaints from Sandy Hook families about Twitter abuse, although authorities said they reported complaints about Facebook to which the social media company responded.