What does the High Court Ruling mean?
Firstly, the High Court ruling says that media companies are liable for the comments that are posted on social media.
Media Companies is an interesting definition because it means anybody. Anyone who owns a Facebook page, a closed group, a private group, it could be sporting groups.
Anyone who is the owner of the page is now liable for any comments made on those pages.
The reason that this is the ruling that the High Court has taken is because these comments are being published by the page owner, meaning Facebook is not considered the publisher, simply the platform.
Even for Banter, any comments on our pages are our responsibility to moderate and to make sure that they meet the rules and regulations of our media policies, including Defamation Law.
What does this mean for my business’s social media profiles?
Ultimately, if you are present on social media, it is your responsibility to make sure that any comments on those profiles & on those pages are comments that you can agree with and stand behind. The reason that this is really important for any brand or any type of community group is because the onus actually comes back to the page owner.
The person that is being vilified for example, is going to find it easier to take a business or a page to court and win, rather than finding the anonymity of an individual who might be posting and take them to court as an individual. So businesses are now under more pressure, more than ever, to make sure that they’re moderating those pages.
What can you do today to protect your business?
- Update your rules of engagement on these groups and pages. Highlighting what you will and won’t find acceptable, and what actions you will be taking, including turning off comments on Facebook.
- Review, moderate, and turn off comments when they’re falling in appropriately.
- Ensure your social media and marketing teams have the right training to understand the impact of their actions, and those of your audiences, on your social profiles.
For a detailed and thorough run-down of the law and who is responsible for what, this blog from Allens is easy to follow and explains the specifics of the case being references. It’s important to note that there are no precedents in this area of social media law. This case, specific to news publications, will create the first precedent. As this current ruling is under review by state and territory legislators, so the position may be altered by statute in the future.
I hope this has been helpful.