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We all love a good comment section on Facebook. It can bring out the passionate, the dispassionate, the reciprocal and not so reciprocal beliefs. It can be a nest of opposite opinions fighting each other for text space in the land of Blue and White.
But what happens when it all goes a bit too far?
Last week the Australian High Court delivered a landmark ruling that could have lasting impacts for our clients and many businesses across Facebook.
Media companies across Australia can now be held responsible for defamatory comments left on their social media pages by members of the public. It’s a judgement that will change how media companies (and businesses) use social media and how social media users engage with content online.
Over the weekend, we all probably noticed that our Media Companies have started restricting commentary on their Facebook posts. We were unable to tag friends on interesting happenings, make comments on political news or the weather. The comments have been restricted in the anticipation of a slanderous comment that has yet to be written yet.
The real question is, does this now impinge on our rights of Freedom of Opinion and Expression? Well apparently not! We still have freedom of expression, but we are unable to express our opinions on News Media over Facebook as our opinions count as the news media opinions according to this new verdict..
Right now it only impacts Australian News Publishers, but what will be the on flow effects for businesses and owners of Facebook Pages?
David Rolph, a professor of law at the University of Sydney, said the ruling “may mean anyone who runs a social media page can theoretically be sued over disparaging comments posted by readers or random group members — even if you aren’t aware of the comment.”
When your weird relative comments on a Facebook post with a controversial opinion (because we all have a weird relative), it's the page that is liable for their comment not the person who wrote it. We are going to see an uptake in “No Comment” posts, a downtake in Facebook arguments (boo) and less screenshots in our inboxes (where's my entertainment coming from now?!)
As business owners, employees and social media users we need to be aware of the comments being made on all pages and moderate in real time if we are Admin or Owners. Checkin