Did Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook declare that Richard Jewell was a "mass murderer" and were efforts to raise money for Jewell's defense and family banned from social media? No, that's not true: The claim was oddly made by the lawyer who helped Jewell sue news organizations that published false accusations that the security guard was suspected of planting the backpack bomb that interrupted the 1996 Olympics. Zuckerberg, who began creation of "TheFacebook.com" while a college student in 2004, was just 12 years old when the bomb exploded in Atlanta's Olympic Park.
The claim originated from in a tweet (archived here) from the Twitter account of Atlanta lawyer Lin Wood posted on September 4, 2020. It read:
On July 27. 1996, bomb exploded in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, killing 1 & injuring 110. Mark Zuckerberg & Facebook declared Richard Jewell to be a "mass murderer." Efforts to raise money for Jewell's defense & family were banned on social media. Richard was innocent.
This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:
(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Sun Sep 6 14:15:26 2020 UTC)
Wood, who has a reputation as one of the most successful libel lawyers in the United States, represented Jewell in 1996 after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a story titled "FBI SUSPECTS 'HERO' GUARD MAY HAVE PLANTED BOMB" on July 30, 1996. It was just three days after the bombing directly killed one person and wounded another 119. Until the AJC report, Jewell was being hailed as a hero for alerting police to the abandoned backpack in time to evacuate hundreds from the immediate area.
Jewell, who had been targeted as a suspect by investigators, was later cleared, but only after his name had become infamously connected to the terror attack.
Eric Robert Rudolph, a North Carolina man, pleaded guilty years later to the Olympic bombing and a series of other bomb attacks in Georgia and Alabama.
Wood's claim in September 2020 that a 12-year-old Zuckerberg banned his client from non-existent social media in 1996 is false.
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