A publisher can be held responsible for defamatory comments readers leave on its Facebook pages, the Australian High Court has ruled, in a decision that could have far-reaching consequences for social media users throughout Australia.
This decision 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.
words, if you post content on your social media page and encourage or invite comments -- and people post defamatory comments there -- you're legally the publisher of those comments and can be sued, thanks to today's ruling.
case focused on Facebook but the implications are not Facebook-specific. It can apply equally to Twitter, Instagram, and other social media too -- or websites (such as The Conversation) that have comments sections.
Instagram page administrators can turn off comments altogether, and Twitter allows you to restrict comments so only certain people can post to it.
The ruling may inspire many social media account managers to make greater use of
these features and tightly restrict comments -- or, where possible, switch them off completely.