Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and companies have terrorized the victims and families of the deadly Sandy Hook Massacrer for over a decade
One of the deadliest school shootings in history occurred on December 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The incident left 20 children and six adults dead and many more injured. This event has caused many people to re-examine their attitudes about guns and hate crimes. It has also caused schools nationwide to implement stricter security measures to ensure the safety of their students.
The far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the founder of Info Wars and Free Speech System, spread copious amounts of misinformation following Sandy Hook, claiming the shooting never occurred while making hundreds of millions of dollars at the expense of the victims and their families.
Jones blamed the media for creating a climate of fear while telling his audience the shooting was a bunch of crisis actors. For over a decade, Jones and his viewer terrorized the victims of Sandy Hook without remorse, decency and empathy.
By weaponizing social media, he created an environment where hate speech and fake news transpired without repercussions. There’s evidence that these conversations occurred among hardcore pro-gun groups on Facebook and other social media platforms. As a result, many people began blocking or reporting hateful comments regarding the shooting. These actions were not enough to curb online hatred, but discussions about gun control persisted in public forums.
On Wednesday afternoon, some sense of closure came to the victims and families of Sandy Hook, that had to relive weeks of courtroom testimonies about the horrific day and events that ensued. A Connecticut jury awarded a record-setting $965 million in compensatory damages to the families and victims against Alex Jones and his companies for the suffering he caused.
The judge will later award punitive damages later, which many experts expect to reach as high as two to three billion dollars. After the verdict, Jones’ lawyer said he would appeal the ruling, and it could take years for anyone to see any money from Jones or his companies since filing bankruptcy.
While no event can undo what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the close to a billion-dollar verdict as a start should make all media outlets that pedal in disinformation think twice about how they choose to use their platforms.