Mumbrella will stop posting links to its articles on Facebook following the recent ruling from the Supreme Court of New South Wales determining that media companies could be liable for any defamatory comments made on news articles posted to their Facebook pages.
Tim Burrowes, Mumbrella’s Founder, announced the decision within his ‘Best of the Week’ e-newsletter, sent to subscribers each Saturday.
“It will cost us a few hundred thousand page impressions a year, but I’ll sleep better,” Burrowes said.
Borrowes then urged every publisher who uses Facebook to read the full detail of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“Every publisher who uses Facebook would be wise to read the whole thing…Having read the ruling, I’ve decided that in Mumbrella’s case the risk of sticking with Facebook as a traffic source while the law remains as it is, outweighs the reward.”
The case in question involves Danny Voller, whose poor treatment in custody led to a Royal Commission into the Detention and Protection of Children in the Northern Territory.
Voller’s case attracted much commentary, and Voller sued Newscorp and Nine (then Fairfax) for defamatory comments from members of the public associated with Facebook posts shared by the publishers.
The NSW Supreme Court ruled that Newscorp and Nine were responsible for any third-party comments on their Facebook pages.
Newscorp has appealed the ruling, and it is expected that Nine will follow suit. Both parties are said to be confident of winning their appeal.
As Burrowes says “Given that Facebook does not provide publishers with tools to pre-moderate comments it feels illogical that they should take legal responsibility.”