High Court ruling means your station could be liable for defamatory comments posted by others on your social media pages

Frieda Lee, 7th October 2021

Media outlets were found to be responsible for comments made in response to their posts, even if they were unaware of the exact nature of those comments and deleted them after they became aware of them.

On 8 September 2021, the High Court ruled that media outlets are legally responsible for defamatory comments made by the public on posts published on an organisation’s Facebook pages. The decision has consequences for all media organisations who run social media pages or have commenting features on their websites. If the default setting enabling comments on a post is not changed, this is considered to be an invitation or encouragement to comment. If someone posts a defamatory comment - the media organisation who owns the page is legally considered a “publisher” of the comments and can be sued.

Community radio stations are media organisations and should exercise additional caution when interacting with listeners on any page affiliated with the station. Depending on your size, the content you deliver, and how many staff and volunteers you have, you may want to consider moderating or restricting comments on all or some kinds of posts.

Our Fact Sheet will help you understand the case and moderate your social media pages. You can access it in our Resource Library.

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