Why Australian publishers & users could be liable for defamatory social media comments (Fairfax V Voller)

Social Media

The Significant Court of Australia in Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd v Voller1 regarded who is a ‘publisher’ in the context of defamatory materials posted on a social media website on the internet and in carrying out so, restated the long-established Australian widespread regulation situation in Webb v Bloch.2 In Webb v Bloch, Isaacs J (referring to Folkard on Libel and Libel, 5th version, [1891], 439) adopted the definition of ‘publication’ in the pursuing phrases:

“The expression released is the suitable and technical phrase to be utilised in the scenario of libel, with out reference to the precise diploma in which the defendant has been instrumental to this sort of publication given that if he has deliberately lent his support to its existence for the intent of getting published, his instrumentality is proof to exhibit a publication by him.”

Assist for this method was discovered by Isaacs J in his reference to Parkes v Prescott,3 which in convert referred to the 2nd version of Starkie on the Legislation of Slander and Libel which made available the pursuing check as to who might be a publisher:

“All who are in any degree accent to the publication of a libel, and by any suggests regardless of what conduce to that publication, are to be considered as principals in the act of publication : therefore if one propose unlawful make a difference in order that an additional may well create or print it, and that a 3rd may publish it, all are similarly amenable for the act of publication when it has been so effected.”

This article examines the implications of Voller (particularly, that social media end users are also ‘publishers’ of defamatory substance, as very well as the social media internet sites on which they publish these kinds of substance) as they may well have an affect on sporting clubs and groups (and quite possibly their members) as social media end users, instead than the platforms by themselves.4 Voller is a timely warning to all social media buyers and by extension, sporting communities at the two the skilled and grassroots degree as to how sporting organisations and golf equipment control communications with customers and also communications concerning customers, especially by way of social media platforms.


Paul Hayes KC

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