Andrews and Berejiklian assess libel risks of allowing Facebook comments

The ruling paved the way for Mr Voller to sue the media for libel following third-party comments in the NSW Supreme Court. However, news outlets still have the option to assert defamation defamation defamation defamation, including the innocent broadcast defense, and the court has yet to decide whether the comments are in fact defamatory.


Professor David Rolph of the University of Sydney, an expert in defamation law whose work is cited in the High Court judgment, said Mr Gutwein’s ruling was “risk management”.

“Because we can all be publishers now through social media, it’s not just the media that has to deal with the risk of defamation, which of course the media has been doing for decades, if not centuries,” he said. he declares.

“Turning off comments is one way to manage the risk of defamation. It also only undermines the interactivity that is at the heart of social media platforms. “

Other options include not posting content that might attract high-risk comments, employing someone to monitor comments around the clock, or not having any social media accounts at all.

University of Melbourne associate professor Jason Bosland, director of the Center for Media and Communications Law, said the ramifications of the High Court ruling are “very significant” even though media companies may ultimately argue with success their defenses in the Voller trial.

“If you are an organization or a politician where you receive a lot of comments in response to your posts, then I think you would be concerned. This must have, in the weeks and months to come, an impact on the way people engage on social media, ”he said.

“I think this will definitely stifle political debate and have a chilling effect on the public sphere that now exists on social media.”

Professor Derek Wilding, co-director of the Center for Media Transition at the University of Technology Sydney, said defamation law reform was the “only realistic way” to balance online discourse.

“Yes, there could be a slowdown in political discussions due to the caution about allowing comments to be made on Facebook pages and other social media sites,” Professor Wilding said.


“But what we really need is a law reform solution that guides a common ground that allows a number of free discussions without, at the same time, allowing open sprawl. and put no restrictions on what people can say. “

The country’s attorneys general are examining precisely this issue, having released a discussion paper in March calling for submissions on the issue of internet intermediaries’ liability to defamation for posting third-party content.

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