Australian court rules media outlets can be sued for Facebook user comments

Australian court rules media outlets can be sued for Facebook user comments


Australia’s highest court ruled that media outlets are “publishers” liable for defamatory comments posted by Facebook users on their social network pages.

The landmark ruling came after many mainstream outlets argued in vain that they could only be considered publishers if they were aware of defamatory messages, and meant to spread them.

Judges shot down that argument and ruled that outlets were responsible for offending comments by facilitating and encouraging discussions online.

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The ruling paved the way for a lawsuit by Dylan Voller, a former juvenile detainee who wants to sue publishers and broadcasters.

The possible suit will target comments posted on the Facebook pages of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Centralian Advocate, Sky News Australia and The Bolt Report. His case has been on hold since 2017 while the courts sorted out the legality of the issue.

Australian courts had previously ruled that people could be held liable for defamatory statements on their

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