Posettigate highlights legal risk of social media
The public row between academic Julie Posetti and Chris Mitchell, editor of The Australian, has highlighted the risks of publishing, even via social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
Getting sued for defamation has always been an occupational hazard for magazine and newspaper proprietors. Now that literally anyone can publish content, if you have a Facebook page, a Twitter account or a blog, you need to be aware of the law.
The "Posettigate" disagreement relates to tweets from Posetti paraphrasing comments by a former journalist at The Australian. There was talk of a defamation suit, but the latest reports suggest a more amicable solution might now be possible.
Julie Posetti has close to 6,000 Twitter followers, which means her tweets are read by more people, carry more weight and as a consequence are more likely to cause her problems if someone reads something they don't like. A nasty letter from a libel lawyer is therefore more likely to land on her desk than that of your average bedroom blogger.
However, organisations looking to get into the publishing game as part of their marketing activities need to know what they're doing. Content posted on a company website or on a corporate Twitter feed needs to be legally-sound or there could be serious consequences.
Not understanding libel or copyright law or being new to the content business is no defence if you upset someone with enough money and time to pursue it. Take this recent libel case from the UK, for example, which was caused by a company press release.