Other politicians and high-profile people likely considering following Tasmanian premier in switching off comments, defamation law professor says
The Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein’s decision not to allow comments on some Facebook posts is likely just the beginning of the broader ramifications of a high court decision on liability for third-party comments on social media, according to one defamation law expert.
Earlier this month, Fairfax and News Corp lost a bid in the high court to escape liability for allegedly defamatory comments posted on their Facebook pages in response to articles about Dylan Voller, whose mistreatment in the Northern Territory’s Don Dale youth detention centre led to a royal commission.
The five-two judgment went far beyond just finding media companies were responsible for comments made on their Facebook pages, finding that merely facilitating comments amounted to “participation” in the communication of defamatory material, even if the original poster was not aware of the content of later comments.
The decision means people who run Facebook pages or other social media accounts will need to closely moderate all comments at all times, and delete potentially defamatory content, or switch off comments altogether – a feature Facebook introduced in March.