Murder arrest stirs online hate

Fears that social media attacks could jeopardise the criminal justice system have not deterred an online lynch mob demanding blood as police question a man over the murder of Sarah Cafferkey.

Facebook's public "R.I.P Sarah Cafferkey" page had more than 27,700 `likes' today.

The page's popularity has swollen since police confirmed yesterday that the Bacchus Marsh 22-year-old's body had been found.

It's grown further since an arrest was made today.

Many posters mourned the death of a beautiful young woman they never knew, while others voiced despair that the tragedy came soon after the September rape and murder of Brunswick woman Jill Meagher.

Others, though - as with Ms Meagher's case - wanted blood as soon they had a suspect's name.

"I hope you rot you mongrel dog!" one woman posted.

Other posts included "Kill the prick" and "Hang the a**hole, he will do it again."

While some posters called for calm and to let the justice system take its course, others protested laws were too lenient and some called for the reintroduction of capital punishment.

Police warned the public against making malicious comments as they announced their arrest of a 47-year-old man.

"The community is reminded that comments on social media sites may potentially affect the outcome of court matters relating to this investigation," a police statement said.

"We request people refrain from posting hateful or inciteful comments on these sites."

The overwhelming social media response to the Meagher case prompted Australia's attorneys-general to meet last month and vote to create a new group to craft and enforce social media guidelines.

Last month, Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay accused Facebook of inciting hatred in the Meagher case and possibly prejudicing the trial after the social media site initially failed to remove hate pages about the accused, Adrian Ernest Bayley, despite requests from police.

A Melbourne magistrate last month banned publication of prejudicial material about Bayley in a bid to halt the massive social media hate campaign waged against him.

Perhaps a recent Facebook post by Ms Cafferkey, which suggests she was in a dispute with a man before she disappeared, has some advice for social media users.

"Stop being immature over Facebook, please. I've had enough," Ms Cafferkey wrote.

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