Facebook insists that safety is its "top priority," and that it removes content that threatens individuals. But multiple Facebook pages urging people to kill or otherwise harm George Zimmerman have been allowed to stay up on the site, while others have been taken down, causing confusion about what exactly members are allowed to post about the high-profile case.
After Zimmerman was found not guilty of the March 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin on Saturday, some angry supporters of the deceased 17-year-old made Facebook pages attacking the accused murderer. As far as we can see, these pages do not explicitly discuss how to kill Zimmerman or suggest any real plans to do so. But they do bear charged titles like "Kill George Zimmerman" and "George Zimmerman must DIE."
When asked about these pages, a Facebook representative directed The Huffington Post to Facebook's community standards page.
"We remove content and may escalate to law enforcement when we perceive a genuine risk of physical harm, or a direct threat to public safety," the page reads. "You may not credibly threaten others, or organize acts of real-world violence."
But an important piece of Facebook's harassment and violence policy is that it only applied to private individuals. "We allow users to speak freely on matters and people of public interest, but take action on all reports of abusive behavior directed at private individuals."
On Monday, the website Examiner reported some pages calling for Zimmerman's death had disappeared from the site. It's possible that the pages were not taken down by Facebook's staff for threatening Zimmerman, but instead because they violated another rule, or because their creators decided to shut them down.
There has been much controversy about whether or not Facebook should be obligated to remove these pages. "Interesting how you can't 'kill' this page by reporting with Facebook and that all of the members/likers identities are hidden," writes Jamie Hoff Pike on the "Kill George Zimmerman" page. "Facebook protects hate mongers."
Facebook pages urging social network to take down the anti-Zimmerman pages have also popped up.