The fact that anyone can comment on a Facebook page has proved too much hassle, said the legal team representing George Zimmerman, so they’ve shut down their official Facebook group.
Zimmerman is still on trial for shooting and and killing teenager Trayvon Martin—in self defense, Zimmerman claims—in February. The case is noteworthy both because it’s fraught with racial tension and because Zimmerman seems to have an ever-changing Web presence.
Though the Web in general seemed poised against Zimmerman as he went to trial, a shoddy-looking site Zimmerman created to address his legal costs was phenomenally successful, raising more than $200,000. His lawyer, Mark O’Mara, quickly told him to shut it down, and replaced it with an official blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account to remedy his image.
But while the blog and Twitter account are still going strong, O’Mara’s team deleted the Facebook page Wednesday. An unsigned blog post explaining the move said the page “has increasingly become a concern to us,” and that their “biggest challenge” is that “we cannot post without allowing comments.”
Every post made on Facebook becomes an open thread where anyone on the site can comment, and comments inevitably lead to conversations about evidence and speculation about guilt or innocence. This type of conversation is a natural part of discourse, and there are plenty of places on the Internet where it is appropriate for this to happen, but it need not happen on a page hosted by the defense.
The post only touches on what kind of comments prompted the closure, but it hints that it’s because of Zimmerman supporters who take his side because Martin was black and Zimmerman wasn’t. It’s worth noting that Zimmerman, who’s of a diverse background—his mother was Peruvian and his father Jewish—has some online supporters who are unabashed white supremacists and vocally anti-black.
“[W]e have banned a very small number of users for making any comment that seemed negative toward race,” the post said. “The irony is that if these people truly understood Mr. Zimmerman’s diverse ethnicity, George Zimmerman himself could be a target of their negativity.”
Photo of Zimmerman via YouTube