Social media experts have spoken of the importance of the tool in solving crimes after the case of Jill Meagher in Australia.
Melbourne based social media expert Kristen Boschma told the Australian newspaper, The Age, that the level of interest about Jill Meagher case on social media was “unprecedented other than natural disasters in Australia.”
Thomas Meagher, the husband of Jill, posted a missing poster on his Facebook account and this poster was then shared nearly 3,000 times by other Facebook users.
At the same time a “Help us find Jill Meagher” Facebook page was set up within hours of the announcement last Sunday that Jill was missing. BY Wednesday the page had a massive 67,000 likes and then gained a further 60,000 likes in the next 24 hours.
According to experts the level of interest in the case helped the police to be able to get across CCTV footage of Jill which led to a large number of people coming forward to help in the case quickly.
The Meagher family arrive in Australia around three years agao and had been living in Brunswick for the past year.
29 year old Jill Meagher was last seen on CCTV footage that showed her talking to a man in a blue hooded jacket at around 1.43am on September 22 after walking home from an evening out with colleagues.
After a nationwide search Jill Meagher a body was discovered in a shallow grave and a man has now been arrested and charged with her rape and murder.
While social media has helped the police in the case and has been a very effective way of spreading information about the case the comments made by some people on various social media sites.
Thomas Meagher thanked the public for a ll of their support in the hunt for Jill but warned that some comments on social media sites may have affects in any court cases in the future.
He said: “I just wanted to say very briefly that, despite the fact that this is the worst thing that we’ll ever go through in our lives, I’ve been really humbled by the support of the Australian public (and) the tireless efforts of the police and all the friends and family who have put their lives on hold to help us out.
“While I really appreciate all the support, I would just like to mention that negative comments on social media may hurt legal proceedings, so please be mindful of that.”
A statement from Victoria Police, the police force investigating the case, has asked people not to post any comments that could potentially interfere with the investigation.
The case of Jill Meagher has shown that social media can have both a positive and negative affect on police investigations around the world and shows the changing face of police investigations.