Social Media and Defamation: How and where to draw the line

Thursday 10 May 2012 @ 12.25 p.m. | Legal Research

Today's SMH Technical section has the interesting article on Cardinal Pell's threat to sue Twitter for defamation . . . "over an offensive tweet by the Melbourne blogger Catherine Deveny" which the paper says "has revealed the increasing threat social media poses to the reputations of public figures." 

The article then refers to "the [need for the] nation's defamation laws to be updated to reflect the new influence of social media".

Along with this appears the story from the UK Guardian that new legislation to be introduced into the English Parliament ... "is intended to abolish costly trials by jury in most libel cases, curb online defamation through a new notice and takedown procedure, reduce so-called "libel tourism" and make it more difficult for large corporations to sue newspapers."

While there should be concern for reputation and particularly that of public figures there should also be a realisation of the importance of free speech and communication. It will be interesting to see how this evolves in Australian as these two competing values fight it out in the courts and cyberspace.

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