The Death of Jill Meagher: Crime and Punishment on Social Media
In this paper we analyse the kidnapping, rape and murder of Jill Meagher as a case study to highlight a range of issues that emerge in relation to criminalisation, crime prevention and policing strategies on social media - issues that, in our opinion, require immediate and thorough theoretical engagement. An in-depth analysis of Jill Meagher’s case and its newsworthiness in terrestrial media is a challenging task that is beyond the scope of this paper; rather, the focus for this particular paper is on the process of agenda-building, particularly via social media, and the impact of the social environment and the capacity of ‘ordinary’ citizens to influence the agenda-defining process. In addition, we outline other issues that emerged in the aftermath of this case, such as the depth of the target audience on social media, the threat of a ‘trial by social media’ and the place of social media in the context of pre-crime and surveillance debates. Through the analysis of research data we establish some preliminary findings and call for more audacious and critical engagement by criminologists and social scientists in addressing the challenges posed by new technologies.
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