News sites are liable for defamatory Facebook comments, rules Australia’s High Court

News sites are liable for defamatory Facebook comments, rules Australia’s High Court


Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Media companies in Australia can be held responsible for defamatory comments left on their social media pages by members of the public, the country’s High Court has ruled.

The decision is part of a long-running defamation case that could have huge consequences for Australia’s media industry, forcing news sites to strictly moderate or remove comments on stories shared on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. Writing in The Conversation, 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.”

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