Social Media and the Law of Defamation

Last week, the NSW Supreme Court handed down a decision that makes news companies liable for defamatory comments their readers post in response to their stories. The decision has copped criticism from journalists Australia wide for putting unnecessary responsibility on news companies. Presently, Facebook doesn’t allow account administrators to turn comments off, so the ruling means that media companies will have to employ around the clock social media managers to monitor Facebook pages and delete defamatory comments. Turning comments off has also been criticised for potentially stifling the way readers interact with posts.

We spoke to Dr Jennifer Beckett from the University of Melbourne to tell us a bit more about what the decision means in practice.

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