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John Passant

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July 2018



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Censored from posting in groups on Facebook for this article

Censorship from Facebook?

‘You’re temporarily restricted from joining and posting to groups that you do not manage until Wednesday at 2:41 PM. If you think you’re seeing this by mistake, please let us know.’

Why? For posting my regular weekly Independent Australia column to various groups. Yet they don’t block holocaust deniers.

Here is the article Facebook blocked me from positing in groups I have posted in for the last five years.

Cartoon by Mark David / @mdavidcartoons

By-elections, backbenchers and wannabes

Current backbench troubles reflect elected representatives who are divorced from the reality of life for most workers, I write in Independent Australia.,11716




Comment from Jack
Time July 24, 2018 at 6:24 pm

You are not alone . It is happening all over FB. Their economic crisis is coming to a head and they need to keep the masses in check. “Why everyone on Facebook is now at risk…..

Original by Caleb Bond The Daily Telegraph July 23, 2018
“Seeing as the article is about me, and I was not interviewed, I will add pertinent details to the post.” Mark Aldridge

MORE than 15 million Australians log on to Facebook every month. That’s about 60 per cent of us. It is far and away the most popular social-media service in the country. And, thanks to a recent court case, it also just happened to turn into potentially the most costly.

Experienced political candidate & Civil rights campaigner, Mark Aldridge was last month ordered to pay $100,000 in damages plus costs to a Greengrocer he was ruled to have defamed on Facebook. But Judge Peter Brebner also found that Aldridge was liable for remarks he had not personally made — the comments of other Facebook friends and followers — and would have to pay damages for them, too.

Aldridge has now lodged an appeal.

In his judgment, Judge Brebner concluded that Aldridge had “provided medium through which bilateral communication of comments occurred”.

In simpler terms, he had, by way of posting on Facebook, invited others to make comments — some of which were defamatory. That, according to Judge Brebner, made him a “secondary publisher” of those comments.

Interestingly Aldridge was not able to remove the post and or all the comments, even the term “Greedy” was considered defaming.

Make no mistake — this has huge implications for every single Facebook user.

With that bombshell in mind, The Advertiser last week sought advice as to whether journalists could be held responsible for the comments of readers on our professional Facebook pages.

Many of us run public pages to keep you, our readers, up to date with our stories. We also use it to engage with our readers and give you bits and pieces that otherwise won’t make it to the newspaper.

And sure enough we understand that, yes, we are indeed responsible for any half-witted comment made by a mouth breather we’d never heard of.

Every single Facebook user in the country was put on notice. We are now responsible for not just our own words, but for those of other people. You can be taken to court for words you never wrote. All it will now take is for some dope to jump on your Facebook post, call someone a paedophile in the comments and bang — you’re in front of a judge. Hand over the money, thanks.

Aldridge reminds us all, that the costs are staggering, from the moment go, I was unable to pay to have this go away. Making matters worse I am an advocate of free speech, and as such, support Australians rights to have an opinion.

Some in our newsroom immediately decided to shut down their Facebook pages. And who could blame them?

One of the issues that arise during the case, was that of fake profiles, making comments, in several cases, timelines designed to look like Aldridge’s.

But this doesn’t just hit journalists. It has the potential to hit every single Facebook user. Every mum and dad who makes a post. Every business that maintains a Facebook page for professional reasons. Some of these pages have hundreds of thousands of followers — like The Advertiser’s page — and would be beyond laborious to moderate every single comment.

This is an extraordinarily alarming situation. It has to be one of the biggest threats to free expression in recent memory. It has the potential to rule out any discussion of controversial topics on Facebook unless you’re willing to take the risk of being sued for someone else’s malice.

All you now need is for a large enough group of people to target a post with questionable comments and discussion will be silenced. Who would be silly enough to keep even the most innocuous of posts up when it could cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars? Would you, on balance, post about child abuse in the Catholic Church when it could potentially bring up unknown claims in the comments?

These are uncharted waters and different to any other case involving a publisher. If, for instance, you write a letter to the editor of this newspaper, we make a judgment as to whether it goes to print. If you post a comment on our website, you are doing so through a site we created.

Facebook is neither of those. Comments can be posted unfettered and the service you’ve used to do it is not owned or managed by any of us. It has not yet been tested, but if a Facebook poster can be litigated for being a “secondary publisher” of someone else’s comments, then could Facebook be sued for being a publisher? It is, after all, the outfit that gave the comments a platform.

Now this has happened in South Australia, more cases across Australia could pop out of the woodwork. And we could all well be made to pay.

The same person who sued Aldridge had written many posts and comments defaming him, but simply removed them before taking action. So even if you are being defamed, replying to those attacks can be an issue.

Welcome to the brave new online world.

Aldridge has filed an appeal, and is using constitutional arguments while he is there, to protect free speech on mediums like Face Book. He stated “If I lose the appeal, if I can raise the money, I will take this to the high court” I am well studied on the law, but far from an expert, however I will do my very best.” MARK ALDRIDGE

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