Australia has been in the spotlight for several months now. It was the first country to take a stand on whether publishers should be compensated by social media platforms – Facebook and Google – for news that is published on their sites.
The answer was ‘yes’ and some deals were done, which looked rather like PR deals than real ones but at least they were done.
Now Australia has once again stuck its hand in the fire, ruling on a case where a young man called Dylan Voller has won a case against News Corp, which while great for him, will cause ripples that will be felt around the world.
Facebook pages owned by publishers such as Rupert Murdoch and Fairfax will be held accountable for comments on their social media pages.
This is an interesting step that Australia has taken and will almost certainly be replicated by other countries, keen to curb the seemingly unlimited and irresponsible reach of social media. While this ruling does not go as far as some in the US would like, namely to recategorise social media platforms as publishers, it is a decent starting point.
Money is always the way to curb big companies running wild and the potential extra costs of both moderating platforms and ear-marking a lot of extra money for legal expenses will certainly give publishers a wake-up call.
Doubtless, too, publishers will turn to the social media platforms and demand that they play their part and tighten up on derogatory comments.
Australia has always been where companies and regulators go to experiment with products, services and regulation and the initial ruling on sharing revenue with content providers might have been something of a damp squib. But combine that ruling with this one and it is beginning to look as if there is a robust beginning to the end of the idea that social media can have free rein, without any responsibility for whatever nastiness happens on the sites.