Australian state and territory attorneys-general met in Brisbane on Friday to discuss the potential impact of social media on criminal trials, particularly the death of Jill Meagher that has raised widespread concern in the country.
Jill Meagher, a former female radio employee of ABC in Melbourne, suffered an abduction, rape and murder during a walk home few days ago.
Following the arrest of a man for Meagher's alleged rape and murder, hate pages sprang up on Facebook. Her death has brought into sharp focus the issue of social media's potential influence on criminal trials. The social networking site eventually removed them after police raised concerns that online comments could prejudice the trial.
However, Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie told local media that there is no easy solution to the problem. "The problem is Facebook is based in America. As far as I'm aware it has no offices here so it would be a very expensive and difficult thing to do."
Australian Attorneys-General Nicola Roxon wants her state counterparts to agree on a plan to deal with prejudicial posts and "hate pages" which appear about prominent crimes. And the Attorneys-General will set up a working group to look at the influence of social media sites on a person's right to a fair trial.
The proposal was put forward by Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark, who will chair the working group.