Sep 28, 2012

Jill Meagher case: Bolt, Twitter users warned on comment

Social media is abuzz about the murder of Jill Meagher and the man accused of killing her. But media law experts warn people should be careful about what they say.

Matthew Knott

Former Crikey media reporter

The family and former colleagues of Jill Meagher have urged social media users not to publish prejudicial statements about the man charged with the rape and murder of the ABC employee because of fears they could impact on a future trial.

Media law experts have also warned that social media users — even though they have no training in media law — could also be sued for defamation or contempt of court over comments about the case posted on blogs, Facebook or Twitter.

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23 thoughts on “Jill Meagher case: Bolt, Twitter users warned on comment

  1. Clytie

    Really? What about a careful and considered 140 characters?

    Polden seems to assume that nobody can possibly have anything useful to say on Twitter. This does not degrade the medium as much as it does the public.

    We’re better off with Julie Posetti’s howto.

    Also, after a major mainstream-media and social-media campaign to get people involved in the victim’s case, it would defuse things a bit if the police/judiciary simply said, “You’ve helped us find this guy, but now we need you to sit back and let us do our job. We’ll keep you informed. For more info on how you can make your area safer (and how we can help you do it), see this URL.”

  2. zut alors

    It shouldn’t be too hard to find unbiased jury members – many people don’t use social media and many many more don’t read the Bolter.

  3. Dion Giles

    It defies belief that anyone who has decided that a defendant in ANY trial is guilty would rush in and risk invalidating the trial and getting the guilty person off the hook. Let’s hope there’s not too much of that sort of self-indulgent stupidity in the jury room. Many false convictions suggest that the hope is forlorn.

    At least in the case of those who try to nobble a trial by idiot public comment are subject to contempt of court laws which carry gaol penalties and that when people use “social media” to break the law they may not be as anonymous as they think.

  4. Liz45

    I agree! My heart goes out to Jill’s husband, family, work colleagues and friends. The rest is in the hands of the Law!

  5. dazza

    Bolts at it again crying freedom of expression and/or freedom of speech. Will he survive this one?

  6. David Allen

    An article on how other jurisdictions are dealing with this problem would be of interest.

  7. friedkrill

    No problemo, we’ll just set up an illegal detention centre off the coast and hold him indefinitely without trial, right?

  8. Mike Smith

    Like it or not, the concept of sub judice no longer stops people from commenting – the internet isn’t the only culprit. Acknowledge that this is so, and find another way of trying people.

  9. GLJ

    The idea that rationality should guide comments is expecting far too much from 73.25 % of the population . Clytie might be insulted by the thought that many comments are not thoroughly thought through. I myself & I expect it. No face to be identified , no real name to tag you with. No need to justify , verify or even attempt to appear sober.
    Its a great opportunity to play the big man and a smashing opportunity for Harry Hindsight to reign supreme.

  10. David Farrell

    If people on a jury can’t make a decision based on the evidence given at trial (regardless of 10M people’s personal opinions expressed via various Social Media platforms), they shouldn’t be jury members. This is 2012 – the Media over-saturation age – isn’t it?

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