Australia’s highest court has made a landmark ruling that media outlets are “publishers” of allegedly defamatory comments posted by third parties on their official Facebook pages. The High Court dismissed an argument by some of Australia’s largest media organizations – Fairfax Media Publications, Nationwide News and Australian News Channel – that for people to be publishers, they must be aware of the defamatory content and intend to convey it.
The court found in a 5-2 majority decision that by facilitating and encouraging the comments, the companies had participated in their communication. The decision opens the media organizations to be sued for defamation by former juvenile detainee Dylan Voller.
Voller wants to sue the television broadcaster and newspaper publishers over comments on the Facebook pages of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Centralian Advocate, Sky News Australia and The Bolt Report.