George Zimmerman, the Florida man infamously acquitted for killing teenager Trayvon Martin after a scuffle in 2012, has been suspended after tweeting images of a topless woman he claims is his ex-girlfriend.The first tweet includes a phone number with a Kentucky area code. A call to the number by the Daily Dot went straight to voicemail, though the voice recorded in the greeting identified herself as Heather. The second tweet included a Yahoo email address, along with accusations of theft.
Twitter's abusive-behavior policy forbids “inciting others to harass another user,” and tells users that “you may not post intimate photos [...] without the subject's consent.” Those tweets didn’t just violate Twitter’s terms of service, however. They may have broken the law.
In October, Florida became the latest state to outlaw nonconsensual sexualized images, better known as revenge porn, the act of posting private, intimate images for a public audience against the subject's wishes. Laws against the practice vary by state, but Florida’s statute, which became effective on Oct. 1, bans sharing such images if they’re “sexually explicit.”
On that count, “this image probably doesn't qualify—it's not quite ‘nude,’’ Dr. Mary Anne Franks, a University of Miami professor who helped create the framework for a number of states’ revenge porn laws, including Florida’s told told the Daily Dot via email. Franks calls the final version of Florida's law “deeply flawed.”
Zimmerman is aware of that fact, explicitly pointing out that the photos didn’t actually show her as nude.
Zimmerman has been in the news for a number of incidents after killing Martin, ranging from being shot by someone with whom he had an “ongoing dispute” to an arrest for aggravated assault to having to apologize for retweeting a photo of Martin’s dead body.
Even if Zimmerman is never arrested for the tweets, he’s still opened himself up to a civil lawsuit from Heather, Carrie Goldberg, a New York lawyer who specializes in revenge-porn cases, told the Daily Dot.
“If he, as many abusers do, is publishing false statements about her—in this case related to promiscuity and theft—he could be liable under civil defamation laws, not to mention other privacy laws that may apply,” Goldberg said.
Illustration by Jason Reed