Social Media Warning

You could be legally liable for comments made on your social media pages, even if you aren't responsible.

Social Media Warning
Photo by Brett Jordan / Unsplash

There was a High Court legal decision this week that should be a huge concern to anyone with a presence on the Internet.

That means anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account, a personal website or any other place they can share words, video or a point of view.

The High Court essentially said that you could be held liable for content others put on your ‘page’ even if it is done without your knowledge or consent.

Let me give you a simple example.

An amateur sporting organisation creates a Facebook page to promote their sport and encourage a sense of community. They can’t control the individuals who are able to post comments – because Facebook doesn’t really allow you to.

As the page gets more traffic, monitoring comments can actually be a full time job, which is beyond the ability for volunteers to assess.

According to the High Court, if someone goes to that Facebook page and posts a comment that is defamatory of others, then the sporting organisation can be held liable.

And it’s not just sporting organisations, it applies to individuals too. That means you can probably be held responsible for comments made by someone else on your Facebook page.

If that’s not enough,  it is incredible that Facebook has no liability for anything published on their website, but you do!

Apparently they are a ‘platform’ and not a publisher.

That’s despite censoring content they don’t like, manipulating their algorithm to suppress certain information, using their dominant market position for political purposes and suspending or cancelling users arbitrarily.

That's all the stuff that publishers usually do.

It’s the same with other big tech tyrants - Youtube, Twitter and Google.

Now anyone who uses Youtube, which is probably most of us, it can be handy for instructional home-plumbing videos after all; knows that the comments posted can range from the relevant to the ridiculous right through to the outrageous.

We also know there are a bunch of keyboard warriors out there who feel comfortable putting terrible things online thinking they won’t be held to account.While they can be, most often they are not.

However the High Court has now said that the person who provided the content that resulted in those offensive comments are possibly on the hook for them.

Given this latest ruling, in my opinion, anyone with a Youtube or Facebook page should disable comments (if that’s possible) or take it down immediately.

You have been warned.

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