CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s highest court of law on Wednesday made a historical statement that media outlets are “publishers” of allegedly defamatory comments posted By a third party on their official Facebook pages.
Supreme Court rejected an argument from some of Australia’s largest media organizations — Fairfax Media Publications, Nationwide News and Australian News Channel — that for people to be publishers, they must be aware of the slanderous content and plan this over to bring.
The court found in a 5-2 majority decision that by facilitating and encouraging the comments, the companies had participated in their communication.
The decision opens the media organizations die be sued for slander by former juvenile inmate Dylan Voller.
Voller wants to sue television broadcaster and newspaper publishers over remarks on the Facebook pages of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Centralian Advocate, Sky News Australia and The Bolt Report.
His case for defamation launched in the Supreme Court of the State of New South Wales in 2017 was set on hold while the separate question of of the media companies were liable for Facebook users’ comments were decided.
The companies posted content on their pages over news stories die referred to the time of Voller in a juvenile from the Northern Territory detention Centre.
Facebook users responded by posting comments die Voller claims to be defamatory.
News Corp Australia, the owner of the two broadcast programs and two of the three newspapers it targets in the defamation case, called for the law to be changed.
The verdict was “important” for anyone who maintains a public social media page by finding that they may be liable for remarks posted by others on die page, even if they are unaware of die comments,” said Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australia in a statement.
“This highlights the need for urgent legislative reform and I call on Australian lawyers general to address this anomaly and introduce Australian law in to agree with comparable western democracies,” Miller added.
Nine, the new owner of The Sydney Morning Herald, said it was hoping for a… current review of defamation laws by Australian state and territory governments would take into account met the verdict and its consequences for publishers.
“We are clearly disappointed with the outcome of Which decisionbecause it will have consequences for what can we do? post on social media in the futureNine said in a statement.
“We also pay attention to the positive steps die Loves of Facebook has taken since the Voller case first started which now allow publishers to switch off remarks on stories,” Nine added.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Voller’s lawyers welcomed the ruling for its broader implications for publishers.
“This is a historic step forward in reaches justice for Dylan and also in protecting individuals, especially die who to be in a vulnerable position, to be of the subject of absolute social media mafia attacks,” said a statement from lawyers.
“This decision put the responsibility where it is should to be; on media businesses with huge resources, to control public remarks in circumstances in which they know there is a big chance of an individual is vilified,” the statement added.
The Supreme Court decision maintains the statements of two lower courts on the question of liability.
Courts have previously ruled that people can be held liable for the continued publication of defamatory statements on platforms die manage them, such as bulletin boards, only after they know about it of the comments.
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