In light of a recent court ruling coming from Australia that allows news organizations to be sued for what people comment online on their articles – CNN decided to simply pull all accessibility to every one of their Facebook pages in the continent of Australia.
While the news of CNN being inaccessible in through Facebook in Australia may serve as joke fodder for those who dislike the new organization – the premise that was established in Australia’s high court is concerning: comments left by Facebook users on posts are being treated by Australia’s courts as though they’re content published by the news organization itself.
CNN has decided Australians “will no longer have access” to its Facebook pages, after the recent court ruling which found publishers have defamation liability for Facebook comments
Rather than moderating all the comments, CNN is just cutting off Australia https://t.co/NqAMamzP4I
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) September 28, 2021
It’s a matter where it’s somewhat tough to assign blame to CNN for their decision to simply pull access to all their Facebook pages in Australia, considering how the continent’s high court determined that news organizations can be held liable for the comments left on their articles by random Facebook users.
Anyone who spends any amount of time on Facebook and comes across an article covering a popular or contentious topic is no stranger to some pretty absurd comments left behind by users of the platform – and Australia’s High Court’s ruling in early September decided that news organizations, not individuals, should be liable for those very comments.
The case where this decision was reached stemmed from outlets like Fairfax Media, Nationwide News and Sky News covering news of Dylan Voller, an Aboriginal-Australian man who was thrust into the news cycle after an episode of ABC’s Four Corners aired in 2016 that explored his mistreatment as a juvenile at a Northern Territory detention center.
Following the 2016 Four Corners episode, the aforementioned news outlets started sharing reports of his story and the subsequent announcement from the prime minister announcing the intention to investigate Voller’s treatment as a juvenile while in custody of the detention center.
TL;DR: Facebook does not give publishers the ability to turn off comments for particular countries or delete comments en masse.
At the same time, Australia has decided publishers are liable for what random commenters say.
Outlets have to protect themselves. It’s understandable
— Belinda Barnet (@manjusrii) September 30, 2021
In all the reporting from the news outlets managed by Fairfax, Nationwide and Sky News, a video was posted to Facebook that depicted Voller in what was described as a “compromising state” while being held at a detention center in his youth.
The video of course resulted in comments pouring in – some expressing sympathy for what Voller endured and aligning with his efforts to reform juvenile corrections, while other commenters began to allege that Voller committed a vast array of violent crimes and was perhaps deserving of such treatment.
Thus, in 2019, Voller brought a lawsuit against Fairfax, Nationwide and Sky News, alleging that the news publishers were responsible for all defamatory statements made by Facebook users on their posts – claiming that since they manage the Facebook page, those comments were effectively published by the news outlets.
Apparently, the Australian courts agreed with Voller, which brings us back to CNN’s recent decision to pull all access to their Facebook content in Australia. Following the decision, CNN allegedly asked Facebook whether it could assist news organizations in Australia in disabling comments on all of their pages.
CNN is the first major news organisation to pull its Australian Facebook presence since the country's high court ruled that publishers were legally responsible for comments posted below stories – even if the stories themselves were not defamatory. https://t.co/3aH1CzGRYI
— John FitzGerald (@TheTweetOfJohn) September 29, 2021
In short, Facebook told CNN that they would not disable all comments in Australia for their Facebook pages, instead telling CNN that they would need to disable comments on each and every one of their posts – a process that can only be done one at a time.
Considering the arduous nature of that effort (both retroactively and moving forward), CNN opted to instead just restrict access to its pages in Australia. A spokesman for the news organization delivered the following statement regarding the matter:
“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.”
To date, CNN is the first large media organization to do this regarding Australia – but it’s certainly possible they won’t be the only one to do so considering the far reaching legal ruling in the country.
Peter Lewis, director of the Centre for Responsible Technology, commented on that very aspect and suspects more news organizations will follow suit – and rulings like this will only become more frequent:
“There will be more of this. We’ve had this major disruption in the way that we share communication and make sense of the world. And Facebook is the big beneficiary in terms of the money they’ve made out of that shift.”
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Coming to America? Australia reportedly now confiscating alcohol in locked down areas
(Originally published September 12th, 2021)
AUSTRALIA– Throughout the pandemic, overreaching politicians have imposed regulations and mandates that suppressed the rights of the people across the world out of “safety”.
During the holidays, Law Enforcement Today reported on many excessive mandates, such as how many people can gather at your home for dinner. Pennsylvania even went so far as to shut down alcohol sales on Thanksgiving eve in an attempt to control the narrative.
At a time when the people are fed up with the scare tactics and mandates handed down by hypocritical politicians, shocking reports are being released that show how far the governments are being allowed to go.
According to reports, Australia has now begun monitoring alcohol consumption, and in some cases confiscating alcoholic beverages in areas that are under strict lockdown.
Australia has now resorted to monitoring alcohol consumption and in some cases confiscating elicit drinks in areas under strict lockdown. https://t.co/ajxK5dBGNO
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 9, 2021
According to news.com.au, health authorities in New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, have limited the number of alcoholic beverages people can drink each day in “NSW Health controlled buildings” as part of an effort to “ensure the safety of health staff and residents.”
“Residents in apartment blocks locked-down by NSW Health are having their alcohol deliveries policed as part of a policy to limit the number of drinks being consumed each day.
“Mission Australia’s Common Ground building in Camperdown is the latest building where occupants are subjected to the harsh rules.
“Residents are allowed to receive a ration of one of the following: six beers or pre-mixed drinks, one bottle of wine, or one 375ml bottle of spirits.
“Excess alcohol is being confiscated until lockdown rules are lifted.
“Residents can consult with a clinician if they think they need more than the allowed limit.”
It is being reported that authorities are even searching “care packages sent by friends and relatives” in order to monitor the goods and ensure there are no items that will violate the order, and residents in Sydney are furious.
Australia should be a warning🚨
People who are locked down in NSW apartment building are now getting limits on what they can consume.
Gifts and care bags get searched before being handed to those in lockdown.
If too much alcohol is found it gets seized by police.
— PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) September 8, 2021
One resident of the building, Robin Elhaj said:
“They are searching all bags and things coming into the building … They confiscated a series of gifts. So things like bottles of spirits, we weren’t allowed to have those and we still (aren’t),”
Breitbart reported that a spokeswoman for the Sydney Local Health District confirmed the alcohol limits are in place “where Covid-positive patients and close contacts are sent for isolation.”
Likewise, a spokeswoman for the Sydney Local Health District confirmed apartment buildings under the control of the NSW fell subject to alcohol restrictions.
Many are questioning whether the mandate limiting alcohol consumption during quarantine is even legal given the fact that the consumption of the beverages is occurring in an individual’s private residence.
A NSW Police spokeswoman denied reports that officers are confiscating alcohol from residents.
AUSTRALIA – Limit on alcohol purchased to consume in their own homes because, COVID.
— Bernie's Tweets (@BernieSpofforth) September 8, 2021
The spokeswoman said:
“In all residential lockdown locations, NSW Police are there to ensure compliance with the Public Health Orders and assist NSW Health if required,”
Australia’s strict lockdown policy, which forbids citizens from leaving the country, has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks.
Writing in The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf argued “Australia traded away too much liberty.”
“Australia is undoubtedly a democracy, with multiple political parties, regular elections, and the peaceful transfer of power.
But if a country indefinitely forbids its own citizens from leaving its borders, strands tens of thousands of its citizens abroad, puts strict rules on intrastate travel, prohibits citizens from leaving home without an excuse from an official government list, mandates masks even when people are outdoors and socially distanced, deploys the military to enforce those rules, bans protest, and arrests and fines dissenters, is that country still a liberal democracy?”
As Breitbart pointed out, Australia’s neighbor New Zealand has already vowed to close its borders for the remainder of the year, continuing the country’s embrace of a total isolationist strategy in its fight against the coronavirus.
In August, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country’s borders “will never be the same after” the pandemic, likening the situation to the 9/11 attacks.
“Just like after 9/11, the border will never be the same after Covid … things can change, but that doesn’t mean we can’t adapt to them in a way that eventually feels normal again,”
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