Australia’s high court ruled earlier this month that publishers were legally responsible for the comments added to their posts, even if the stories themselves were factual and accurate. The decision was a blow to the country’s publishing industry, which immediately said it would impact how news outlets could use social media.
The move is the first by a major news organization to limit the reach of its Facebook pages, often a large driver of profitable internet traffic. The decision could have major ramifications for other local and international outlets if they follow suit, and shift how Australians are able to see news content on their social media feeds.
The Wall Street Journal, which was the first to report the news, added that CNN asked Facebook if the company would help news organizations disable the comments on its pages so it could avoid any legal risk. Facebook, however, declined to craft a blanket disable feature, instead saying it would help CNN disable comments on posts one-by-one.
The Journal, citing a CNN official, said the process of doing so for every post would be too time-consuming.
“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,” CNN said in a statement to media outlets.
The news giant’s Facebook page now features a message saying content “isn’t available at the moment” for users in Australia, adding that the page owner has “changed who can see it.”
Facebook told Reuters on Wednesday the move showed how Australian defamation laws needed to be reformed, adding that it hoped to receive “greater clarity and certainty in this area.”
CNN will continue to publish its news content on its own websites and platforms in Australia.