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CNN prevents Australians from accessing its Facebook pages after judges’ ruling

The media companies appealed in May 2021 and argued they should not be liable

CNN has restricted access to its Facebook page in Australia after judges in the country ruled that media companies can be sued for Facebook comments on posts.

The WarnerMedia-owned media company said Facebook users in Australia will no longer have access to its primary Facebook page, its CNN International page and pages dedicated to its shows.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook turned down CNN’s request to disable comments on its pages hosted by the media giant. CNN ultimately felt that policing comments on Facebook was too tedious.

“We are disappointed that Facebook, once again, has failed to ensure its platform is a place for credible journalism and productive dialog around current events among its users,” said a CNN spokeswoman.

Why does this matter?

  • After Facebook users posted alleged defamatory comments about him on Fairfax and News Corp’s Facebook pages, Dylan Voller sued the media companies in 2017 for causing him extreme emotional and mental distress.

  • The media companies appealed in May 2021 and argued they should not be liable because they did not have “knowledge and control” over comments on Facebook posts, and had not “intentionally lent assistance” to the publication of defamatory material.

  • A five-two majority decision was reached in the Australian high court, with justices Stephen Gageler and Michelle Gordon separately agreeing that the media companies were publishers of the subsequent comments, adding that the advent of the internet and “many-to-many” publication did not warrant relaxing strict defamation laws.

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