HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The family of a teacher killed in the Sandy Hook school massacre has applied to trademark her name in an attempt to stop others from misusing it on social media.
Victoria Soto was a 27-year-old first grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School who authorities have said hid students and tried to shield others from the gunman who killed 20 children and six women. Eleven students in her classroom survived.
Jillian Soto says people have set up fake social media accounts using her sister's name, many of which promote conspiracy theories about the massacre, and some of which are used to harass her and other family members.
"Vicki did a heroic thing, there are 11 kids that are alive today because of the actions of my sister," she said. "And we don't need anything negative to be tied to her name any longer."
She said the misuse of her sister's name also makes it harder for people to find links to the Vicki Soto Memorial Fund, which raises money for scholarships for aspiring educators.
Ryan Graney, who helps the Soto family run its social media sites, said every time an abusive or unauthorized Twitter account appears, she has to fill out a form and send it to the company. Twitter then does an investigation and determines whether the account violates the company's policies and should be removed.
She said the family applied for the trademark protection on Monday in the hopes of expediting that process.
"Now we can say, 'Look they can't use this name, it has to come down right now,'" she said.
Nu Wexler, a Twitter spokesman, declined to comment in an email, but pointed to the company's impersonation policy, which says accounts can be permanently suspended if they are deemed to be "portraying another person in a confusing or deceptive manner."
The Connecticut Attorney General's office said it has not received any formal complaints from Sandy Hook families about abuse on Twitter.
"We did follow up on complaints that families had made regarding Facebook pages, and did find Facebook to be responsive to our concerns," said spokeswoman Jaclyn Falkowski. "We would encourage families to contact our office about problems they're experiencing on Twitter so that we might be able to offer our assistance."