Blog article /4 MIN READ

Third-party comments on Facebook: are you liable?

The High Court of Australia has confirmed previous decisions about who is responsible for comments on your Facebook page. Hint: it’s not the third party, it’s you.

In early September 2021 Australia’s High Court rejected a new appeal against its earlier decision that publishers were liable for the defamatory third-party comments made on a story they published on their Facebook page. 

“The message from the High Court is that if a company wants a presence on social media, it’s also responsible for moderating the content made in response to its posts.” 

ABC News website 

In the original case, a person successfully took media companies to court for comments made on the media organisations’ Facebook page by a member of the public. 

While not as widely reported as the original decision or the first appeal, this second appeal added an extra dimension. Commentators seem to agree that this decision now affects more than media companies. It might also affect you. 

In their analysis of the September 2021 decision the team at legal firm Gilbert and Tobin says that the judgement will apply to:

  • all people and organisations that maintain their own websites and social media pages, including non-media companies, not for profits and government bodies; and
  • all websites and social media pages, not just Facebook.

Third-party comments are conversations

One way to reduce the risk of defamatory comments being published on your social media is to turn off comments. The problem with that approach is that conversations are how we build trust and connection on social media. Turning off comments could completely change the dynamic of your social media presence, and might even reduce or remove the benefit of having social media at all.

Social media safety check

If you already take your online reputation seriously, the possible impact of this decision will likely be low. A safety check of your social media toolkit could provide peace of mind. Here are our self-audit tips for some popular social media sites. 

What to check in Facebook

Is your profanity filter turned on? Are you monitoring your page for troublesome keywords and known disruptive posters?

What to check in Instagram

Check your settings and actively moderate and hide comments or message requests you don’t want to appear. 

What to check in Twitter

Actively manage your Twitter account to check for offensive content. 

How a social media archive can help

The more social media channels you’re active on, the more complex it is to moderate your feeds and the more you need to think about a social media archive. 

You might already know that social media archiving is an important tool for compliance with recordkeeping legislation. Government organisations at local, state and national level are required by law to archive their social media, under the Commonwealth Archives Act 1983 and related State legislation.

More than compliance

Yet there’s more to social media archiving than the legal fine print. A Brolly social media archive captures the posts and comments on your social media channels – in real time. That means that if any posts or comments are edited, deleted or hidden, there is a record of them in your archive, even when they’re no longer publicly visible on your social media. This is great for responding to and resolving customer complaints, reporting internally and responding to audits. 

✨✨ Not sure about the ROI of a social media archive? Check out this article on manual archiving vs. a Brolly archive now  

Consolidate your conversations

An archive consolidates all your social media conversations into a single feed that you can easily search, filter and tag for easy retrieval. If you have ever had to search for a post on Facebook that’s more than a few days old, you know how tricky and time consuming it can be to find something on the original social media site! A Brolly archive makes it easy, with fast advanced search and multiple filtering options.  You can also export all or part of your archive in a format that suits you. Export a single conversation or use tagging and filters to export groups of similar records as PDF, csv, or feature-rich HTML.

Reputation and risk management

Second by second, your archive creates a true record of activity on your social media. edits, deletes or hides You can also set up alerts to let you know when key words or phrases appear or specific people comment.

Next steps to managing social media risk

Social media management tools that help you schedule, publish and plan are great ways for your social media teams to save time and money. The landscape of risk and reputation management is evolving with the increased use of social media. Your Brolly social media archive makes monitoring and managing easy, with all your conversations covered, in a single, intuitive app. 

Is Brolly right for you?
Find out on a 20-minute call!

Book a 20 minute call to learn how Brolly provides social media archiving that protects your records, ensures you’re compliant with recordkeeping and data privacy laws and can save your social media and record management teams hours of effort each week.

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