Feeds

Facebook, Twitter, ordered not to spoil MURDER trial

Social networks challenged by Oz Magistrate, but show little sign of compliance

High performance access to file storage

The Deputy Chief Magistrate in the Australian State of Victoria, Felicity Broughton, has ordered Facebook and Twitter must remove material that may prejudice a murder trial.

The future trial of Adrian Ernest Bayley will be watched with exceptionally keen interest in Australia, as Bailey's alleged crimes – the rape and murder of young Irish woman Jill Meagher after an ordinary and innocent night out – sparked a very substantial reaction on social media. A 20,000-strong street march in Meagher's memory protested both her death and violence against women.

Social media has since carried many hateful remarks about Bailey, leading his defence – and Police – to call for removal of such remarks lest they prejudice the case.

The Age reports Magistrate Broughton today upheld those requests, noting that while it may not be possible to remove all such material, she feels organisations like Facebook and Twitter are big enough to respond and to be held accountable.

But Facebook operates only a small office in Australia and has not, in the past, been particularly responsive to simpler requests for content removal. Twitter appears to have no Australian presence at all. Indeed, the micro-blog created an official TwitterAU account only yesterday.

The Reg has approached Twitter to learn if the account was started in response to incidents like this order for content removal. Twitter's reply pointed out it is an international site and that the company is "excited to now have an account for Australia." Twitter has not responded to our questions about whether the new account is an effort to become more accountable to Australian authorities.

The court order comes at a very interesting moment for social media in Australia, as in recent weeks it has become the forum for mass protests on several topics. A recent sexist remark by radio host Alan Jones led to the formation of a 10,000+ member group opposed to sexism. A later tasteless remark by Jones about Prime Minister Julia Gillard's recently-deceased father having “died of shame” saw dozens of advertisers boycott his program after more than 100,000 signed an online petition.

The radio station labelled those two online efforts as cyber bullying, which sparked a further round of online protest.

In the last 24 hours, social media has been used by many Australians to express criticism of mainstream media for failing to celebrate Prime Minister Gillard's rousing anti-sexism speech (YouTube) delivered on the floor of parliament. Mainstream media took a wider view of the speech in the context of the day's political activities, pointing out that no matter how impressive the oratory, it resulted in a Pyrrhic victory for the Prime Minister and her minority government, at best.

Overseas media focused on the speech alone, leaving many Australians to wonder why their own new outlets did not give it the same weight.

Recent events come just weeks after a local newspaper started a campaign to "Stop the Trolls" after celebrities were bullied online. That campaign used those incidents to promote a reduction in overall cyber bullying, partly in response to youth suicides sparked by cruel comments on social media.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy supported that campaign and has even raised the desirability of legislation that would compel social network operators to be more responsive, if they do not become more responsive to community concerns.

Facebook and Twitter's response to Magistrate Broughton's order will therefore be watched very closely. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.