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Are News Outlets Responsible For Comments Left On Their Facebook Pages

Published by Slashdot on Mon, 01 Jun 2020


Leading media outlets in Australia lost big in court when a judge ruled publishers can be sued for comments left on their Facebook pages. They're now considering an appeal, reports the Financial Express:The court upheld an earlier ruling in the Supreme Court that the outlets were "first or primary distributors" of the comments about Dylan Voller, a former detainee at Northern Territory's Don Dale Youth Detention Centrethat were attached to news stories in December 2016 and January 2017... It said the outlets "encouraged and facilitated the making of comments by third parties which when posted on the page were made available to Facebook users generally and were therefore publishers of the comments". The court also held that the outlets could not rely on a defence of innocent dissemination... Justice John Basten said: "Perhaps with a degree of hyperbole, they submitted that they were more closely equivalent to the supplier of paper to a newspaper owner or the supplier of a computer to an author." He dismissed the suggestion the outlets played "no active" role in regard to the postings on their Facebook pages. "The point of distinction may be accepted; however, it does not follow that they were not publishers,'' Justice Basten said. "They facilitated the posting of comments on articles published in their newspapers and had sufficient control over the platform to be able to delete postings when they became aware that they were defamatory." In a separate judgment, Justice Tony Meagher and Acting Justice Carolyn Simpson said that by inviting the public to comment, the outlets "accepted responsibility for the use of their Facebook facilities".Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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