Sydney, Sept. 28: Australians have been continuously talking about the case of Jill Meagher, who had disappeared and was murdered in Sydney, particularly on social media, but now when a man has been charged it is time to stop being specific, experts said.
Jill Meagher was mentioned on social media, both Twitter and Facebook, every 11 seconds.
The CCTV footage which showed her walking on Sydney Road on the morning she disappeared was shared on the same platforms about 7500 times within two hours, according to Kristen Boschma, the head of social media at communications firm Haystac.
According to the Age, Boschma said the level of social media engagement with the Meagher case was ‘unprecedented other than natural disasters in Australia’.
“It’s something that people are taking to with enormous passion and also what’s interesting is that the vast majority of the mentions are really about sympathy and that people are upset,” she said.
According to the report, with that anger comes responsibility to social media users, who become content publishers when they post. That may require knowledge of media law.
A Facebook hate group against the accused in the Meagher case has already attracted almost 18,000 ‘likes’.
Victoria Police has posted a message on its Facebook page warning users of their legal responsibilities in posting and reminding that “it is inappropriate to post speculation or comments about matters before the courts”.
Thomas Meagher, Jill’s husband, urged people to consider what they posted on Twitter and Facebook.
“While I appreciate all the support, I would just like to mention that negative comments on social media may hurt legal proceedings so please be mindful of that,” he said after the man accused of his wife’s murder fronted court.
University of Canberra journalism academic Julie Posetti said users needed to be aware of potential implications of “trial by social media” by posting about the accused.
“In this particular case, it would be awful to think about the potential consequences including an incapacity to prosecute somebody because of trial by social media, for example,” Posetti said, who is writing a PhD on Twitter’s role in journalism.
“We all are very familiar with the term trial by media and it’s a real problem, but we also now need to be aware of the potential implications of trial by social media,” Posetti added. (ANI)