Australian High Court finds media outlets are responsible for Facebook comments in Dylan Voller defamation case

The High Court of Australia has dismissed an appeal by some of the country’s biggest media outlets including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, finding they are the publishers of third-party comments on their Facebook pages.

Former Northern Territory detainee Dylan Voller wants to sue the companies in the New South Wales Supreme Court over alleged defamatory comments on their Facebook pages.

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High court rules Australian media companies can be liable for defamatory comments posted on Facebook pages
Some of Australia’s biggest media companies have lost a bid in the high court to escape liability for defamatory third-party comments on their social media posts.

In a five-two majority decision on Wednesday, the court rejected Fairfax and News Corp’s appeal, finding they could be held liable for allegedly defamatory material posted to their Facebook pages about Dylan Voller, whose mistreatment in the Northern Territory’s Don Dale youth detention centre led to a royal commission.

High court ruling in Voller defamation case puts media companies firmly in firing line
All eyes were on the high court on Wednesday morning when it delivered its decision in the Voller matter, which will have a significant impact on the defamation law landscape insofar as it relates to the liability of publishers for defamatory comments published by third parties.

In 2017 former Northern Territory youth detainee Dylan Voller successfully argued that media organisations are liable as publishers of third-party comments made in response to articles posted on their public Facebook pages.

High Court rules media liable for Facebook comments on their stories
The High Court ruling held that publishers are liable for defamatory comments made on their social pages. While the implications on social media users are significant, Professor David Rolph says the new defamation laws may provide relief.

A publisher can be held responsible for defamatory comments readers leave on its Facebook pages, the High Court ruled on 8 September 2021, in a decision that could have far-reaching consequences for social media users throughout Australia.

This decision 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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