This Is Why; You Should Always Properly — Punctuate Your Social Media Posts’

This Is Why; You Should Always Properly — Punctuate Your Social Media Posts’
Image: WikiCommons

An Australian judge may make an example of sloppy punctuation to the tune of over $159,290 in legal fees. Australia: the stone-cold schoolmarm of nations, once dubbed by a reporter the “defamation capital of the world.”

Several outlets have reported that real estate agent Anthony Zadravic is now being sued for defamation for typing “employees” rather than “employee’s” in a Facebook post last year. In the reported 12 hours before Zadravic deleted it, the post read:

“Oh Stuart Gan!! Selling multi million $ homes in Pearl Beach but can’t pay his employees superannuation,” meaning an employer-subsidized pension fund. “Shame on you Stuart!!! 2 yrs and still waiting!!!”

Last week, Judge Judith Gibson reportedly ruled that Zadravic’s employer Stuart Gan would be allowed to proceed with the suit because “employees” could suggest a “systematic pattern of conduct” of shortchanging staff, whereas Zadravic claimed he was only speaking for himself. Gibson also reportedly said that the suit might cost Zadravic up to $340,362.

Another Australian court has lately gone off the rails with social media defamation policy. Last month, the High Court of Australia upheld a ruling in favour of a former teen detainee who sued media companies over commenters’ ridicule under news posts showing him hooded and strapped to a chair in a detention centre.

The court found that media companies (or anyone who so much as runs a Facebook page) for commenters’ speech; as a result, some outlets and the Tasmanian premier have restricted comments, and CNN has blocked Australian readers from its Facebook page.

Last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that even platforms like Facebook should be held liable as publishers, calling social media “a coward’s palace.”

Defamation attorneys have warned that precedent implies that so much as sharing a post, without adding commentary, can constitute defamation. In 2018, a former New South Wales mayor — a public figure, who’d have a much harder time winning a defamation case in the US — was awarded $163,374 in damages from a Facebook commenter. And now, maybe some unfortunate soul goes to apostrophe jail.

Comments

  • The irony of politicians, not to mention Scomo himself, saying others need to be held accountable, the fucking nerve.

    We’re literally spent the last few months watching some of the most vile people in this country use privilege and power to undermine any and all accountability and criticism, suing people for the very actions they themselves flaunt with impunity.

    • F’ing oath. I despise those despicable snobbish private school WeChat mothers who are suing each other over accusations of fake fashion goods. The nerve of those elites! Someone needs to hold them accountable. Send them REAL counterfeit goods!

      I don’t recall Morrison taking anyone to court over social media defamation, where’s the irony in that? He’s gotta stand by his man Barnaby, now that the Deputy PM’s jumped the shark and gone rogue, demanding parliament pass laws which basically reinvent the wheel, considering the newly-instated office of the E-Safety Commissioner already covers all of it and more.

      • Morrisons history of dodging accountability is legendary at this stage and for all his talk of free speech, he and his associates have a pretty long record of attacking and suppressing it.

    • Which would largely be the fault of us, since people clearly keep voting for them.

      Seriously, if someone is a corrupt shit vote them out regardless of the colour of their shirts. If the next guy does the same vote them out too and keep doing it until someone gets the message.

      The worst thing that’s happened to politics in this country is “they’re all just as bad as each other”; as if this excuses voting for corrupt shits because at least they’re our corrupt shits.

  • So the judge wants to be a stickler for the ’employees’ bit but is okay with the multiple exclamation points in a row, and the use of ‘yrs’ as an abbreviation that isn’t really a gold standard.

    Feels like a lot of really fuckin’ selective picking and choosing going on here.

    • It is selective picking and choosing, but worth noting that the decision is about whether the case can go to trial, not who wins.

      It’s not at all clear how successful that argument’s going to be in the case itself. Judges are notoriously reluctant to completely throw out cases on a technicality.

  • No… this isn’t about grammar.

    This is about why you should be civil on social media. Be nice.

    Never post angry, never invite trolls to attack someone.

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