A landmark NSW Supreme Court ruling* has highlighted the dangers of posting on social media sites and also hosting the comments of others that could be deemed defamatory.
The decision handed down on Monday, 24 June 2019 held that media organisations are liable for allegedly defamatory comments made by third parties on their public Facebook pages.
Many, if not most, finance brokers host their own Facebook pages and social media channels. As such, this decision is a timely reminder to be vigilant about comments posted by others on your own social media pages that could be deemed defamatory, as you could be held accountable for those posts.
It is important to remember the potential ease for online commentary to be simply posted and shared. While a comment on a private message board or social media site may be intended for a small defined audience, all it takes is one click to share that comment more broadly, and potentially put the author and the host at risk of legal action.
The MFAA recommends that brokers continue to closely monitor their social media channels and remove any posts and/or commentary that could be deemed defamatory and if notified of an offending item, to remove that immediately.
Brokers may also explore the privacy settings on their social media pages, as some platforms offer word-filtering tools that block messages with specific words, allowing page administrators to vet comments prior to their publication.
Remember to be measured, sensible and respectful when posting any commentary online. And as always, avoid making, hosting or sharing any potentially defamatory material.
* Voller v Nationwide News Pty Ltd; Voller v Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd; Voller v Australian News Channel Pty Ltd  NSWSC 766