Spike Lee retweets incorrect address of George Zimmerman, violates Twitter rules

Filmmaker Spike Lee attends the "Red Hook Summer" premiere during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival held at Eccles Center Theatre on Jan. 22, 2012, in Park City, Utah. Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Filmmaker Spike Lee attends the "Red Hook Summer" premiere during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival held at Eccles Center Theatre on Jan. 22, 2012, in Park City, Utah.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

(CBS News) Movie director Spike Lee is in hot water over a Twitter retweet that has left a Florida couple fearing for their safety.

Looks like the actor and director was a little too quick to retweet the home address of Elaine and David McClain, whose youngest son's name is very close to that of George Zimmerman - the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Florida.

The incident has set off a nationwide debate over race and justice. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense and has not been arrested.

Complete coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting

To be clear, George Michael Zimmerman is the 28-year-old man who is in hiding for shooting Martin. William George Zimmerman is 41-year-old man who is the youngest son of the McClains, the Smoking Gun reports.

"My youngest son, his last name is Zimmerman and his middle name is George," McClain told WKMG local news. "He definitely owes us a big apology. All of this is really scary and it's a shame. There's no reason they put our address out there without checking to see who lived there."

According to Fox News, the couple is now living in a hotel because of hate mail, media and neighbors questioning them since the tweet went out.

The original tweet was sent out by Marcus D. Higgins, a 33-year-old Los Angeles man. Lee was one of the people Higgins tweeted to get the word out on March 23. 

"@SpikeLee EVERYBODY REPOST THIS George W. Zimmerman, [address removed], Sanford, Florida 32773," @maccapone wrote in a reply to one of Lee's tweets.

After the discovery the address was incorrect, Higgins apologized via Twitter and sent this tweet to Lee: "GOD BLESS YOU I KNOW YOU HATE ME BUT I DON'T HATE YOU I DID APOLOGY FOR RETWEET THE WRONG ADDRESS."[sic]

Lee, who has almost 250,000 followers on Twitter, has yet to release a statement or response to the case of mistaken identity. He is, however, retweeting racially-charged tweets directed at him in the fallout of events.

"People,The Thinking Behind Me Retweeting These Insane Racist Rants Is Because This Sickness Must Be Exposed.USA Post Racial Society?????????"[sic] @spikelee tweeted.

Now there is talk of Higgins and the retweeters violating Twitter's content boundaries and use, which states: "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."

According to Twitter's rules, an account "may be suspended for Terms of Service violations." The real-time micro-blogging service has no official statement regarding Lee's possible violation of terms. A spokesperson for Twitter told CBS News that the company does not comment on individual stories for privacy reasons.

The company did advise that anyone in the same predicament as the McClains should file a report, which will result in an investigation and "may result in the removal of content." More information can be found at the Twitter safety help page.

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