Australian Minister Wins Defamation Case Over Tweet

The case’s consequence was not unheard-of in a rustic with notoriously strict defamation legal guidelines, but it surely was uncommon that the defendant was not one other politician or a high-profile journalist, stated Michael Douglas, a senior lecturer in personal legislation on the University of Western Australia.

“It’s consistent with the theme that this government is content in taking a very heavy-handed approach to online speech that it doesn’t like,” he stated. He added, “Cases like these are a warning that, unless something changes, we’re going to see more and more cases like this, and every Australian should tread carefully before they do a quote retweet and call a politician a name.”

Mr. Dutton has been open about his intent to crack down on deceptive or defamatory social media content material. In March, he told a neighborhood radio station, “Some of these people who are trending on Twitter or have the anonymity of different Twitter accounts, they’re out there putting out all these statements and tweets that are frankly defamatory — I’m going to start to pick out some of them to sue.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison echoed that sentiment in October, when he vowed that the government would do extra to carry social media giants accountable.

“Social media has become a coward’s palace, where people can just go on there, not say who they are, destroy people’s lives and say the most foul and offensive things to people and do so with impunity,” Mr. Morrison stated.

In May, John Barilaro, then the deputy premier of New South Wales, sued an Australian YouTuber, Jordan Shanks, for defamation, claiming that two movies Mr. Shanks had uploaded incorrectly recommended he was corrupt, had dedicated perjury and engaged in blackmail. He additionally stated Mr. Shanks had been racist by attacking his Italian heritage, together with calling him a “con man to the core, powered by spaghetti.”

Mr. Shanks’s channel, FriendlyJordies, which has 600,000 subscribers, is understood for its comedy and political commentary.

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