Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Australian Court: Media Responsible For Facebook Page Comments

Australia's highest court ruled Wednesday (September 9th) that media outlets are "publishers" of comments that are posted by other people on their official Facebook pages, which opens them up to legal action over defamatory comments. 

In the landmark ruling, the court rejected the arguments from some of Australia's largest media organizations that in order to be considered a publisher of the comments, they must be aware of the defamatory content and intend to convey it. 

But the court found instead that by facilitating and encouraging comments, the media companies had participated in their communication. Attorneys for Dylan Voller, an Australian man who wants to sue several media companies over the issue, said, "This is a historic step forward . . . in protecting individuals, especially those who are in a vulnerable position, from being the subject of unmitigated social media mob attacks." 

The companies Voller wants to sue posted content on their Facebook pages about news stories that referred to time he'd spent in a juvenile detention center. People then posted comments on those posts about him that Voller claims were defamatory.

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