Facebook Walks Fine Line Over ‘Kill George Zimmerman’ Fan Pages

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The acquittal of Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman last weekend has sparked protests, social media campaigns and a Tumblr page expressing their support of the 17-year-old murder victim Trayvon Martin. However, some fan pages on Facebook want Zimmerman’s blood for Trayvon’s death.

As of late, a handful of Facebook pages have titles that promote violence against the neighborhood watch volunteer, including a few “George Zimmerman Must Die” pages and a “Kill George Zimmerman” page. Examiner.com reported that Facebook refused to take down a similarly-themed page on Monday because it did not violate community standards, but then quietly removed the site later in the day.

However, complaints made by other Facebook users for the anti-Zimmerman pages have not been approved by Facebook. In fact, one user who complained about the “Kill George Zimmerman” page got this reply: “We reviewed the page you reported for containing credible threat of violence and found that it doesn’t violate our community standard on credible threat of violence.”

The “Kill George Zimmerman” page posted only one update so far but did not specify any violent threat against the neighborhood watch volunteer. The admin of the page wrote: “How about this guys? If you follow behind what Mr. Zimmerman did thats cool but all of us dont need to hear your annoying words. He killed a child! If this was a black guy that killed a white child it would be another story right, The case would be opened and closed. And what if this was your child? Think about it now…”

Facebook community standards on “Violence and Threats” state that they will remove content that they perceive would harm public safety and will contact law enforcement if needed.

The guidelines also state: “You may not credibly threaten others, or organize acts of real-world violence. Organizations with a record of terrorist or violent criminal activity are not allowed to maintain a presence on our site. We also prohibit promoting, planning or celebrating any of your actions if they have, or could, result in financial harm to others, including theft and vandalism.”

Last May, Facebook said it would review its policies on hate speech and offensive content and make users more accountable for posting such content. The plan was in response to a campaign that demanded Facebook to take down images and pages that supported violence against women.

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