Attorneys-General concern over social media prejudice


It’s official, Facebook now has one billion users – that’s one in every seven people on the planet.

But with that comes legal concerns that comments posted on Australia’s social media could jeopardise high-profile cases.

Zac Street reports.

TRANSCRIPT

We use it to communicate everyday, but when social media gets out of hand it can cause serious problems.

Like predjudicial comments posted on Facebook about the man accused of raping and murdering ABC employee Jill Meagher – they were removed yesterday.

It’s raised concerns that similar comments could lead to trials being aborted.

The issue was high on the agenda at the meeting of the nation’s Attorneys-General in Brisbane today.

Queensland’s Jarrod Bleijie says companies such as Facebook and Twitter have a social resonsibility to honour.

Jarrod Bleijie, Queensland Attorney-General: “I think there’s really an obligation on the operators of the social media sites. They have a community obligation to look at these issues as well.”

But he also says people can still have confidence in the legal process in this digital age.

Jarrod Bleijie, Queensland Attorney-General: “Courts will always deal with the matters of fact and evidence and I think our courts and jurors are intelligent enough to know what’s right and what’s wrong.”

The Attorneys General are working together to come up with a solution to surround the problems that surround social media. But they admit there’s no easy answer.

Media and Law expert Peter Black says better education is part of the answer.

Peter Black, QUT Law and Media Expert: “The problem really I think is one of education and awareness of the community that they realise their responsibilities when they are commenting on these matters when they go on social media.”

Catching the horse before it’s bolted is a major step towards reining in a growing problem.

Zac Street, QUT News.