Sharing on Facebook can be defamatory

A recent Queensland Supreme Court decision concerning defamatory posts in the go-carting community has led to a Queensland Supreme Court judge awarding the aggrieved person $250,000. The defendant was the administrator of two Facebook pages relating to go-carting in Australia.

A series of posts made by the defendant on the pages over a period of time concerning the CEO of a go-carting organisation have been found to be defamatory by the Supreme Court judge. Interestingly, one of the defamatory posts was a post that was written by a third party but shared by the defendant on the Facebook page.

The defendant argued that as he was not the author of this post, he was therefore not liable for the defamatory material contained. The judge rejected this argument and confirmed that it is not the authorship of the post that was relevant, rather it was the publication of that post. Therefore, as the defendant had shared this post, the defendant had in effect published it and was therefore liable for the defamatory material contained in that post.

This highlights an important lesson for social media users that the sharing or re-tweeting of a publication which could be defamatory may see that person liable for that post as if they were the ones that wrote it.

It is always important to be aware that your activities on social media can have very costly consequences.

If you believe that you have been defamed or if you have been accused of defamation due to posts on your social media page, then you should seek legal advice immediately.

For assistance or advice on how to proceed please call on (02) 9963 9800 or email law@etheringtons.com.au.

John Pegg

Etheringtons Solicitors