Australia’s response to growing online Risks
Over the last few years news content has shifted to appeal to algorithms and online users. Stories are getting shorter and the content more sensationalised. It has become a cruel game, the sole aim of which is to maximise shares, and thus profit at the cost of effective and honest news recollection. It has been a growing concern over the years, yet has shown no sign of stopping, but Australia may be talking the first step toward a safer online space.
In September, the Australian high court put in a new ruling that could lead to major implications for news content posted online, which may result in a less sensationalised post, and better-monitored comments.
This ruling was a result of a court case Arguing that Facebook comments on media companies’ socials were defamatory to a man, which they ran a story about. The media company argues they were not liable because they couldn’t be considered publishers of their readers’ comments. However, the ruling said in creating a public Facebook page and posting news content there, the outlets had “facilitated, encouraged and thereby assisted the publication” of user comments.
As a result, the new ruling means Australia’s major news publishers are now responsible for comments that read as posts on their corporate Facebook pages. The first response to the ruling was fear of potentially limiting journalistic free speech, however, it quickly emerged the issue is much more complex.
Stories posted by news media can often be designed to provoke negative comments to ensure high engagement numbers, which in turn work in favour of the algorithm. This can be a breeding ground for hatred, discrimination, defamation and the spread of false news.
This new court decision – According to the lawyers of Mr Voller, the man from the story who sued:
What does this mean to everyone else?
It raises the larger question of online liability for individuals and businesses. In order to have open communities online with interactive comments, they must be monitored 24/7. This has even begun to be recognised by media houses, businesses and politicians in Australia.
Peter Gutweed Premier of Tasmanian has announced that he will be turning comments off for some Facebook posts. His reasoning:
This event has only highlighted the need for Online Risk Protection. At RiskEye we have been at the forefront of this battle for years, fighting for safer social. The method of monitoring and alerts 24/7 was devised as the best possible way to mitigate online Reputation risk.