A Sandy Hook father said his experience with online "hoaxers" and conspiracy theorists has led him to believe humanity wasn't ready for the internet when it arrived -- and now it's too late to repair the damage.
Lenny Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was brutally slain in the Dec. 14, 2012, elementary school massacre, has filed lawsuits and hundreds of copyright claims to fight so-called truthers who harass grieving families, reported The Guardian.
Pozner once counted himself a conspiracy theorist and fan of InfoWars host Alex Jones, but he jumped ship when the talk show host claimed his son's death and others were staged.
“I wasn’t very verbal at that point, but I managed to send Alex Jones an email,” Pozner said, and shared what he wrote. “'Haven’t we had our share of pain and suffering? I used to enjoy listening to your shows. Now I feel that your type of show created these hateful people and they need to be reeled in!'”
An assistant to Jones wrote back, saying the talk show host believed the Sandy Hook massacre had occurred -- but he continued to promote those conspiracy theories, and Pozner began hearing from InfoWars listeners.
“Hoaxers need to be handled, not ignored," Pozner said. "It’s like a brushfire -- you need to shape it and direct it. But if you leave it alone, it will burn down your forest, and it has reached all the way to the White House."
President Donald Trump has appeared on Jones' program and has reportedly spoken to the talk show host since his election, and Pozner said that lends legitimacy to hoaxer claims about Sandy Hook and other conspiracy theories -- such as the "pizzagate" stories.
“I don’t want to have anything to do with Donald Trump or the crowd he surrounds himself with," Pozner said.
Even so, Pozner said he understood the allure of conspiracy theories like pizzagate.
“I would not have been as immediately dismissive of it, that’s for sure," he said. "History books will refer to this period as a time of mass delusion. We weren’t prepared for the internet. We thought the internet would bring all these wonderful things, such as research, medicine, science, an accelerated society of good. But all we did was hold up a mirror to society and we saw how angry, sick and hateful humans can be.”
He's not optimistic at all, after engaging with hoaxers and truthers for years, that the damage can be undone.
"It’s too late, and things have gone too far -- the whole Amazon is on fire," Pozner said. "When I was dealing with these people in 2014 and '15, you could utilize their stories and turn them around. I don’t know if you can even do that now."
"Lawmakers don’t know how to deal with this," he added. "Police don’t know how to police the internet, they haven’t been trained -- they just tell you to turn off the computer -- and people who do police the internet, they are looking for credit card scams worth millions of dollars. For 4Chan trolls, this is their playground.”