Quoted in the Courier Mail: ‘Archaic defamation laws need updating for the social media age’ and 'Keyboard warriors walking a fine online'

Press/Media: Press / Media

Period29 Feb 2020

Media coverage


Media coverage

  • TitleQuoted in the Courier Mail: ‘Archaic defamation laws need updating for the social media age' and 'Keyboard warriors walking a fine online'
    Degree of recognitionRegional
    Media name/outletCourier Mail
    Media typePrint
    DescriptionCHARACTER assassination on social media needs to be kept in check by courts while still allowing “breathing space for expression”, the judge who presided over the Tamborine Mountain case says.

    District Court Judge Catherine Muir noted in her 140-page decision that people had a right to use defamation laws to sue if they believed their reputation was hurt by untruths but that should not trample on freedom of speech.

    Judge Muir said courts could only use “existing defamation” law to assess comments made online in a “growing” number of Facebook and other social media defamation lawsuits.

    She noted that “considerable legislative focus and solution” was needed to look at complex defamation law issues in online forums.

    Speaking after yesterday’s decision, Derek Wilding of the Centre for Media Transition at the University of Technology Sydney said a joint effort by the Federal Government and the states and territories was exploring proposals to update defamation law.

    “But even if the law does change, people will still need to ask themselves whether their online comments might harm someone’s reputation,” he said.

    Mr Wilding said internet users needed to be cautious about what they posted online.

    “It’s not Facebook that’s being sued for defamation in Australia – it’s the people who post comments and the people or organisations who own the pages,” he said.

    “Part of the problem is that we don’t assume we’re a ‘publisher’ when we post a comment, but the law sees it differently.”

    Law academic Michael Douglas said defamation law reform was likely to appear this year, but cases like this would still be in the courts and reforms may not help regular mums and dads sued for defamation.“Keyboard warriors should take a breath and go for a walk before writing something spicy on social media,” he said.
    Producer/AuthorVanda Carson
    PersonsMichael Douglas