Australia mulls bringing Facebook into realm of defamation cases

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Last month, the High Court of Australia ruled that social media companies are also publishers. The company can therefore be sued over offensive third-party comments on Facebook’s official pages.

Canberra: Australia’s Communications Minister Paul Fechter said he would review Australian law on the grounds that third parties should have the right to sue users’ posts for defamation.

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Last month, the High Court of Australia ruled that social media companies are also publishers. The company can therefore be sued over offensive third-party comments on Facebook’s official pages.

Fechter said it was not clear under the law of the land whether Internet media could bring Facebook to defamation. Fechter said the reason for the review of existing Australian defamation law is that it does not clarify whether Facebook itself can be brought under the law.

Mark Speckman, The Attorney General of the State of New South Wales is reviewing the laws of Australia and various states with the aim of enacting laws on Internet media across the country.

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Know about the case

Last month, Australia’s top court ruled in a landmark ruling that media companies were responsible for comments posted by third parties on their official Facebook pages.

The High Court rejected the arguments of some of Australia’s largest media companies, Fairfax Media Publications, Nationwide News and several other Australian media groups, saying they were publishers of the comments.

The court, in a 5-2 ruling against the media companies, said they encouraged the comments and were involved in the entire conversation. The petitioner, who was earlier detained after this judgment, can file a contempt case against minor media organisations.

Minor Dylan Woller filed a contempt case against comments on the Facebook pages of television broadcasters and newspapers such as The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Central Advocate, Sky News Australia and The Bolt Report.

In fact, according to a TV report, in 2016, a teenager named Dylan Waller was abused in custody. The news showed pictures of the young man being chained up and spitting. After this, there was a lot of ruckus all over Australia.

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Four years later, it was argued on behalf of media companies that they were not responsible for comments made on social media because the publishers of the content written by the readers are not. Media companies say that it is important to see the content before publishing.

First published:October 6, 2021, 5:24 pm

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