Last week the NSW Supreme Court delivered a controversial decision finding that the corporations behind Facebook pages could be liable for third party comments which may be defamatory. This decision has potentially far reaching consequences. In the case brought by a former Dondale detainee a number of media organisations being the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Centralian Advocate, Sky News Australia and the Bolt Report were sued for defamation over a series of claims made about him in the comments section of each company’s Facebook page.
The Judge found the companies liable despite the claimant admitting that he did not initially request that comments be removed.
Sure the case focussed on media organisations but the decision potentially goes way beyond to include essentially any business managing a Facebook page.
To clarify, comments made by third parties, not the companies, grounded liability in the companies for the defamatory statements.
Is this the end of the story? Probably not. Likely that an appeal will be lodged by the media organisations. The message? Be vigilant in moderating your Facebook or Twitter accounts lest you potentially be found liable for defamation.