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CNN to stop posting on Facebook in Australia after outlets are forced to be liable for reader comments

A court ruled news outlets can be sued over the comments of their readers.
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CNN has shut down operation of its Facebook pages for Australian readers and the company has stopped posting content on the company’s pages, in reaction to a controversial court judgement that held media organizations accountable for defamatory remarks posted by other Facebook users on their posts.

After Australia’s top court ruled earlier this month that publishers were legally responsible for comments made below stories, CNN is becoming the first major news organization to stop posting on Facebook.

If more local and foreign news organizations follow suit, the decision could have significant repercussions for Australians’ access to news information on their social media feeds.

Defamation attorneys accuse Australia of failing to keep up with technological advancements and point to the United States and the United Kingdom, where the law primarily protects publications from being sued for the remarks of their users. The decision has drawn widespread condemnation.

CNN, owned by AT&T, issued a statement to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age explaining that it had previously requested that Facebook deactivate the comments section under their posts, but that the request had been denied.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted a spokeswoman of the media company, in which she said that, “We are disappointed that Facebook, once again, has failed to ensure its platform is a place for credible journalism and productive dialogue around current events among its users.”

In response, Facebook claims to have several tools for publishers and other users to limit who can comment on their postings. According to a Facebook official, recent court judgments demonstrated the need for reform of Australia’s defamation legislation, and the firm looks forward to “greater clarity and certainty in this area.”

However, the details of Facebook and CNN’s conversations that resulted in CNN’s decision were not made public. CNN will continue to distribute content on its own platforms in Australia.

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