CNN has stopped posting articles on Australian Facebook pages, citing a court finding that publishers are liable for defamation in public comments and Facebook's refusal to assist it in disabling comments in the country.
Owned by AT&T Inc, CNN is the first major news organization to withdraw its Australian Facebook presence after the country's high court declared earlier this month that publishers were legally liable for comments made underneath stories - even if the stories themselves were not defamatory.
CNN said Facebook denied a request to help the company and other media in disabling public comments in the country following the ruling.
"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," a CNN representative said in a statement.
CNN would continue to publish content on its own platforms in Australia, the representative said. It does not have a large following in Australia, but if other sites follow suit, the decision could have repercussions across the industry.
Recent court rulings have demonstrated the need for reform in Australian defamation law, and the company is looking forward to "greater clarity and certainty in this area," the representative added.
Facebook claims to have a number of tools for publishers and other users to limit who can comment on their postings. It and CNN's negotiations that led to CNN's decision were not disclosed.
As of Sept. 29, CNN's main Facebook page showed an error message when accessed from Australia.
According to industry estimates, around two-thirds of Australia's 25 million popuation use Facebook.About a third of the country's population used Facebook to source news in 2021, a University of Canberra report said.
However, this has coincided with an increase in defamation lawsuits, causing numerous state and federal governments to evaluate current rules to see if they are fit for the Internet age.
Australia is currently reviewing its defamation laws, but in the meantime, other global news organizations, particularly those that believe they can easily live without an Australian Facebook audience, are likely to follow CNN's lead, Reuters noted.