Defamatory response to Facebook? Australia media companies are liable

Media companies in Australia are responsible for the comments under their Facebook news reports. At the time a user makes a defamatory reaction, his media is liable, so has the Supreme Court ruled in Australia.

By using Facebook, media companies allow comments to be posted under their news stories. It allows media, such as newspapers and television channels, to be seen as publishers of the reactions, says the court.

According to the ruling, media companies are also liable if they are unaware that the response has been posted. Removing hateful responses makes little sense because the companies are liable from the moment a response is online.

The ruling was already made two years ago by a court in the state of New South Wales, but several major media companies, including News Corporation of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, have appealed against it. So the Supreme Court is now holding the ruling up.

Australia Media Law

Since this year, it has been possible for media companies to disable the comments under news reports on Facebook. But that makes it harder to promote articles and earn advertising revenue.

In February, media companies were also harassed in Australia. It was temporarily not possible to share news on Facebook at the time. This came out of a new media law, which required Facebook to pay media for displaying their content. After consultation between Facebook and the government, Facebook returned from its decision and was allowed to post news again.