When someone comments on a Facebook post, who is responsible for it? The person who posted the comment, or the person who made the post that led to the comment? You might think it’s the former, but it seems that it actually might be both, or at least that’s what the Australian High Court’s ruling is trying to suggest.
According to the ruling, it seems that media companies like news outlets could in the future be held responsible for the comments made on their posts and Facebook page. This comes on the back of a lawsuit dating back to 2017, in which Dylan Voller was photographed in 2016 being restrained at a youth detention center.
The photos ultimately led to an inquest into the conditions at these centers, and where Voller later sued three Australian media outlets where he said that the comments left on their Facebook pages in reaction to these stories were defamatory. It was also argued that since these outlets “invited” these comments, it legally made them the publishers of said comments.
While the second point was contentious, a number of courts have since found in favor of Voller’s argument. Voller still needs to prove that the comments were defamatory, but the Australian High Court’s ruling agrees that these companies can be considered as the publishers of the comments.
Unsurprisingly, many media outlets are now worried about the implications of the ruling and are concerned on how it might impact future posts on social media.
Companies like Facebook have been criticized for allowing harassing and abusive posts to stay up longer than it should, so now maybe with this ruling, owners of Facebook pages might be more incentivized to do a little policing and moderation of their own.