Did you just write that? Defamation is rife

One of the benefits of social media is that it gives us all a platform to inform our friends, a community, a nation or even the world of our concerns.

This benefit is also a major flaw.

Too often people post without considering the ramifications particularly on a local level.

As a result defamation is currently rife on social media.

Unlike in the traditional media people wrongly believe that they can say and post just about whatever they like.

And the companies behind these platforms want the situation to remain as is, hiding behind the defence of free speech and claims that they are not the publisher of the material. Social media, to turn a profit, relies on traffic.

Controversy drives traffic.

All would be fine if the free speech was never uninformed speech especially on community social pages.

These community pages can serve a very useful purpose and are usually established and administered by people with good intentions.

Unfortunately for these administrators the pages can quickly become dominated by people with an axe to grind or deflectors of criticism who so easily turn the page's followers in the wrong direction.

As the laws currently stand social media companies take virtually no responsibility for defamatory posts.

It is difficult to see this situation changing, particularly when you have a company like Microsoft expressing concerns that (as reported on the weekend) "unbalanced defamation law may have the practical effect of requiring a search engine operator, in response to defamation concerns notices, to block from its search results third party web page publications that are in the public interest and should be subject to defamation defences".

Australia, unlike many western countries, isn't a particularly liturgist society but when changes are made and it becomes clear who will be held responsible the floodgates will open.

And caught in the floodwaters will be the authors of defamatory posts and the site administrators.

If you are going to post, post with care.

Your words better be true and show no malice or they might just come back to bite you.