Media companies responsible for Facebook comments, Australian court rules

8 September 2021, 04:54

A woman on her phone underneath the Facebook logo
The comments were made on the Facebook pages of media companies. Picture: PA

The decision opens the media organisations to be sued for defamation by former juvenile detainee Dylan Voller.

Media outlets are “publishers” of allegedly defamatory comments posted by third parties on their official Facebook pages, Australia’s highest court has ruled.

The High Court dismissed an argument by some of Australia’s largest media organisations – Fairfax Media Publications, Nationwide News and Australian News Channel – that for people to be publishers, they must be aware of the defamatory content and intend to convey it.

The court found that by facilitating and encouraging the comments, the companies had participated in their communication.

The decision opens the media organisations to be sued for defamation by former juvenile detainee Dylan Voller.

Voller wants to sue the television broadcaster and newspaper publishers over comments on the Facebook pages of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Centralian Advocate, Sky News Australia and The Bolt Report.

The decision opens the media organisations to be sued for defamation by former juvenile detainee Dylan Voller
The decision opens the media organisations to be sued for defamation by former juvenile detainee Dylan Voller (Lukas Coch/AAP Image via AP)

His defamation case, launched in the New South Wales Supreme Court in 2017, was put on hold while the separate question of whether the media companies were liable for Facebook users’ comments was decided.

The companies posted content on their pages about news stories that referred to Voller’s time in a Northern Territory juvenile detention centre.

Facebook users responded by posting comments that Voller alleges were defamatory.

The High Court decision upholds the rulings 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 they control, such as notice boards, only after they became aware of the comments.

By Press Association

More Technology News

See more More Technology News

Glastonbury Festival 2019

EE expects Glastonbury data usage to double at this year’s festival

Ford geofencing technology

Ford trials geofencing tech to automatically control vehicle speed

The Duomo in Milan on Google Street View

Google Street View’s ‘time travel’ feature comes to smartphones

Facebook

Facebook and Instagram to reveal more on how ads target users

Mark Zuckerberg

Washington sues Mark Zuckerberg over Cambridge Analytica privacy breach

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones

More powerful cameras key to smartphone success, says Google manager

An underwater drone on a ship deck

Underwater drone carries out first-ever offshore wind farm inspection

Child uses laptop

Create watchdog to protect children online, charity says

Technology Stock

Dark web ‘scramble’ over Buffalo attack amid fears of post-pandemic attacks

Technology stock

Twitter users told to be wary of scam messages about verified accounts

Computer virus stock

Scientists create tool to kill cyber attacks in ‘less than a second’

Attorney General Suella Braverman

International law should be applied to cyberspace, Attorney General to say

Games console controller

Gaming sector in Scotland needs UK-wide network to thrive, report warns

Sir Nick Clegg

Sir Nick Clegg says the metaverse is coming ‘one way or another’

A child at a computer

Online Safety Bill fails to stop violence against women and girls, experts warn

Coders race to take part in Robot Dog Olympics

Coders take part in Robot Dog Olympics to help develop tech solutions for Army