Tuesday, October 26, 2021

CNN denies Australians access to its Facebook pages, citing defamation risk

Sydney-CNN said it is blocking Australians from accessing its Facebook pages after a court ruled publishers could be liable for defamation in public comment sections and the social media firm helped disable comments in the country. refused to do.

The move makes CNN, which is owned by AT&T Inc., the first major news organization in Australia to pull down its Facebook presence since the country’s highest court ruled this month that publishers will be liable for comments posted at the bottom of articles. Were legally responsible—even though the articles themselves were not defamatory.

Defamation lawyers blamed the ruling on Australia for not keeping up with technological change and noting the contrast with the United States and Britain, where laws largely protect publishers from any repercussions from comments posted online. It is done.

Lawyers said Australia is currently reviewing its defamation laws, but in the meantime, other global news organisations, particularly those that feel they can easily live without an Australian Facebook audience, are following CNN’s lead. is likely to.

“This is the first domino to fall,” said Michael Bradley, managing partner at Markey Lawyers.

For Australian media companies, the ruling also adds a layer of complexity to their relationship with Facebook, such that many of them appear to benefit from a new law that forces the social media company to pay for links to their content. Is.

CNN’s main Facebook page showed an error message when accessed from Australia on Wednesday. The US news organization said Facebook declined a request to help it and other publishers disabled public comments in the country after the ruling, which was made during an ongoing defamation lawsuit.

facebook error message CNN’s main Facebook page shows an error message when accessed from Australia, as seen in this screen capture taken on September 29, 2021. (Screenshots via social media website/Reuters)

A CNN spokesperson said in a statement, “We are disappointed that Facebook has once again failed to ensure that its platform is a place for credible journalism and productive dialogue about current events among its users.” Is.”

A Facebook spokesperson said recent court rulings had shown the need for reform in Australian defamation law and the company looked forward to “greater clarity and certainty in this area”.

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“While it is not our place to provide legal guidance to CNN, we have provided the latest information on tools available to help publishers manage comments,” the spokesperson said.

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The Facebook logo is displayed on their website in an example photo taken on February 1, 2017 in Bordeaux, France. (Regis Duvignau/Reuters)

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Like much of the world, social media is a central channel for content distribution in Australia, and almost two-thirds of its population of 25 million is on Facebook. Nearly a third of Australians said they used Facebook to source news, according to a survey conducted by the University of Canberra in early 2021.

But there has also been an explosion in defamation lawsuits, and state and federal chief attorneys are conducting a comprehensive review of whether the current rules are appropriate for the Internet age, and whether the rules appropriately take into account what a person did. has been damaged or not.

In presenting that review in May, an industry group representing Facebook and other Internet platforms said liability for defamation should remain with “original” content because they can more easily monitor and remove objectionable content. can.

New South Wales State Attorney General Mark Speakman, who is working on the review, said the priority was to address the question of liability in online forums.

“Getting a balance on any reform is critical to balancing freedom of expression with the right to protect an individual’s reputation,” he said in an email.

Matt Collins, a leading defamation lawyer, told CNN the decision showed the importance of aligning Australian law with that of the United States and Britain.

“Australia is one of the Western democracies, with respect to the circumstances in which a media organization and any user of social media may be liable for content that they themselves did not write or approve of,” he said.

by Byron Kaye

Reuters

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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