Spike Lee's re-tweet of an address thought to belong to the accused shooter of Trayvon Martin may have violated Twitter's terms of service.
On Saturday, March 24th, filmmaker Spike Lee re-tweeted two messages to his over 200,000 followers purportedly containing the street address of George W. Zimmerman, who has gone into hiding with his wife due to threats including a bounty on his head from the New Black Panther Party.
However, that address turned out to belong to a septuagenarian couple--a lunch lady and her husband who have moved to a hotel after members of the press and strangers began descending on their home.
Though it's clear Lee crossed an ethical line with this re-tweet, he may have officially broken the rules of Twitter.com, the service through which he passed along the message containing this street address.
As Ladd Ehlinger reports, posting home addresses without permission is expressly prohibited by Twitter's user agreement:
You may not publish or post other people's private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, street address or Social Security/National Identity numbers, without their express authorization and permission.
Whether Twitter will take action against Lee's account for these tweets remains to be seen. One may claim that since the tweets were first composed by another account and Lee merely re-tweeted, the tweets cannot be considered his own. That case seems flimsy, since Twitter rules prohibit both "publishing" and "posting"--publishing representing original tweeting, and posting presumably representing re-tweeting.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that "Lee's tweet has been removed," but a screenshot taken this morning shows both tweets are still in Lee's time line.
Also still on Lee's time line is a tweet addressing a fellow Twitter user who objected to the re-tweet of the address. Asked, "Ever consider that Zimmerman has neighbors that want some peace and quiet?", Lee responded, "This doesn't help. Killer is FREE." This tweet casts further doubt on whether Lee shared what was said to be Zimmerman's address without intent to cause harm or intimidation.