CNN has ceased posting stories to Facebook pages in Australia, citing a court judgment that publishers are responsible for defamation in public comments and Facebook’s unwillingness to let it hide comments in the nation. CNN, which is owned by AT&T Inc, is the first major news organization in Australia to remove its Facebook presence after the country’s top court decided earlier this month that publishers are legally liable for comments made underneath stories, even if the contents themselves are not defamatory.
The decision has been heavily criticised, with defamation attorneys criticising Australia for failing to keep up with technological progress and pointing out the difference between the United States and the United Kingdom, where rules generally insulate publishers from the consequences of online remarks.
Other global news organizations, particularly those that believe they can easily live without an Australian Facebook audience, are likely to follow CNN’s lead, according to the lawyers. Australia is currently reviewing its defamation laws, but in the meantime, other global news organizations, especially those that believe they can easily live without an Australian Facebook audience, are likely to follow CNN’s lead, according to the lawyers.
“We are disappointed that Facebook, once again, has failed to ensure its platform is a place for credible journalism and productive dialogue around current events among its users,” CNN spokesperson said in a statement.
CNN would continue to produce programming on its own platforms in Australia, she said.
Recent court judgments, according to a Facebook spokesman, have demonstrated the need for reform in Australian defamation law, and the firm is looking forward to “more clarity and consistency in this area.”
The spokesperson said, “While it’s not our place to provide legal guidance to CNN, we have provided them with the latest information on tools we make available to help publishers manage comments.”
Facebook claims to have a number of tools for publishers and other users to limit who may comment on their postings. Its and CNN’s conversations that led to CNN’s decision were not disclosed.
According to industry estimates, social media is a key medium for disseminating information in Australia, with around two-thirds of the country’s 25 million people using Facebook. According to research from the University of Canberra, almost a third of the country’s population utilized Facebook to get news in 2021.