CNN became the first international media outlet to disable access to its Facebook pages in Australia in response to a court ruling that allows media outlets in the Oceanic country to be sued for defamation for comments made by their followers on social networks.
A “This content is not available at this time,” message could be read on Wednesday when trying to access the page in Australia of CNN, which justified the decision in Facebook’s refusal to disable the comments function on its pages in the Oceanic country, according to a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers.
The network also criticized Facebook for not ensuring “that this platform is a place for credible journalism and productive dialogue around current events among its users,” adds the statement from this media, which is not among the most widely distributed in Australia.
Facebook commented to these newspapers that while it is not responsible for giving “legal advice to CNN” it has provided “the latest information” on the tools it makes available to help editors manage comments.
Facebook also said it is “working closely with the review of defamation laws” at both the state and territory level and at the federal level in Australia.
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CNN’s move comes after the High Court of Australia, the highest court in the Oceanic country, issued a precedent-setting ruling on September 8 regarding the use of social networks.
The ruling referred to the case of the media groups News Corp and Fairfax Media (currently in the hands of Nine) and Australian News Channel sued by the young Aboriginal Dylan Voller, whose mistreatment in a correctional center in the Northern Territory was reported in 2016.
Voller, who was 17 years old at the time, appeared in an ABC news report with his head covered by a white hood that made it difficult for him to breathe, while his warders bound his legs, arms and neck in shackles to a chair and left him alone in punishment for trying to self-harm.
Newspapers such as the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian and cable television network Sky News, which are considered among the country’s leading media outlets, published stories about Voller on their Facebook pages in which readers left allegedly offensive comments.
The ruling allows Voller to sue the media groups for comments he considers defamatory on social networks, which are a source of news for 52 percent of Australians according to a recent study by marketing firm Genroe.