01 October 2012

Facing Justice

The preceding post commented on questions of hatred, trolling, emulation and responsibility. It is thus interesting to read that "Facebook is refusing a Victoria Police request to remove sites inciting hatred and violence in response to the death of Jill Meagher".

SBS reports that
Social media giant Facebook is refusing to shut down sites inciting hatred and violence against the man charged with the murder of Melbourne woman Jill Meagher. 
Victoria Police has asked Facebook to cancel about six sites but Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright says the social media network operator has declined. 
"(It's) pretty disappointing, some of those sites are inciting hatred and really quite disgusting in the sorts of messages they're portraying," Mr Cartwright told reporters on Monday. 
"The fact is a man's been arrested, we have a good, fair legal process in this state, we need to let it run the course." Mr Cartwright said some of the comments posted were "pretty vile", and there was a risk posting such material in the public domain could affect the trial of the accused. "At the very least they're trying to incite hatred and violence." … 
 A number of hate pages directed at the suspect have also been set up, with one attracting 44,000 likes. …
Victoria Police have ... issued a call for calm, asking people to refrain from posting "inappropriate comments that might jeopardise a successful prosecution". 
Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said police were working through their options following Facebook's refusal to remove the sites. "It is disappointing, and when you see the hatred that's incited by some of these sites, it is very much the antithesis of what we saw yesterday with 30,000 people taking to the streets saying 'let's try and make this a safer and fairer community'," he told Fairfax Radio on Monday.
"We've all got a social responsibility and Facebook is part of our community, and I would've thought it would only have been reasonable."
Facebook does not appear to explained why it has not suppressed the pages. It is capable of turning those pages off: the corporation has the technical ability and the authorisation to do so under its terms & conditions. An apparent decision not to "play nice" with the Police is unwise; it's the sort of corporate self-involvement or indifference that encourages greater regulation.

In a media statement on Friday the Police commented that
Victoria Police has been overwhelmed by the enormity of the public support for this investigation expressed through social media. 
Whilst the widespread willingness to assist has been most welcome, I must now ask that members of the social media community refrain from posting inappropriate comments that might jeopardise a successful prosecution. 
Legislation dictates that nothing should be published that might prejudice the trial of an accused after they have been arrested or charged. That point has now been reached and as Jill's husband rightly pointed out this morning, restraint must be exercised so that the judicial process can run its course.