Victoria Soto was one of the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School who was gunned down on December 14, 2012 in the school. Unfortunately, her family has faced online harassment since then, now resulting in the family applying to trademark her name, reports BBC.
According to the family, since Soto’s death in 2012, they’ve received hate-filled messages on social media by people who believe the shooting was an act made for others to clamp down on gun rights. Carlee Soto, Victoria Soto’s sister, said fake accounts using her sister’s name are regularly created with the intent of casting doubt on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. To make matters worse, others are attacking her dead sister on social media.
“It’s extremely hurtful that people can continually nag and pick wounds after everything we have been through,” said Soto.
Ryan Graney, a family friend who helps them with social media, said the harassment goes beyond hateful messages. According to Graney, at one point, there existed 158 fake Facebook pages dedicated to Victoria Soto. Some websites even falsely tried to raise funds in her name.
As a result, the family is taking the unusual step of applying to trademark her name.
“We did it because the biggest problem we are having is that people are making fake Twitter accounts in Vicki’s name and tweeting conspiracy theories and untrue things,” said Graney.
For Graney and the Soto family, however, the process will be an uphill battle. Applying to trademark a deceased relative’s name is extremely rare, and as such, there’s no guarantee they will get it. Not only would the process take several months, but trademark law doesn’t guarantee the family won’t receive less harassment either — It just means that false pages might get taken down more quickly. If the family is granted the trademark, the family’s Vicki Soto Memorial Fund will receive protection, but the trademark would not cover the abuse they receive online.
Regardless of the obstacles faced, Carlee Soto believes this is an important step for the family to take.
“We are hoping that it will be a deterrent and people will see that we are serious about this,” said Soto. “The fact people think my sister isn’t real has to be the most hurtful thing people say.”
If you’d like to donate to the Vicki Soto Memorial Fund, which has awarded over $10,000 in educational scholarships, please head here.