Media responsible for Facebook comments • ABC Radio

1 June 2020 9:30 am

Are you aware of the things you say on social media? Who do you think should be responsible for the comments you post on Facebook?

The New South Wales Court of Appeals recently ruled that media companies are responsible for the content written by their journalists on social media. That one seems pretty straightforward and common sense, right? But the court also ruled that those same media companies are now responsible for the comments posted on their social media pages, deeming them as the publishers of said comments.

I recently joined Felicity Ogilvie from ABC Radio to chat about the impacts this will have on media companies and how they approach moderating the comments sections of their social media pages.

It’s certainly an interesting and challenging grey area, as by virtue of posting content to social media, media companies are encouraging comments on their posts. Falling short of completely disabling comments, it’s incredibly difficult to actually stop people from comments. Dedicated moderation is a time-consuming and expensive practice, and it’s something that most media companies seem reluctant fully invest in.

The New South Wales Court of Appeals’ ruling will certainly make media companies take pause and consider what they’re posting on social media, and perhaps that’s a good thing. It looks like we’re definitely going to see an uptake in filters and hiding comments, but it will be interesting to see what new and innovative practices media companies take in regards to their comments sections.

On the flip side, this ruling certainly opens up a can of worms regarding personal liability. Does this ruling now mean people have no accountability for the things they comment on social media? That seems like a dangerous precedent to set for the future.

Maybe we all need to stick to some wholesome, age-old advice: if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

You can read more or listen to the segment below »

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