New ABC social media guidelines long overdue

Liberal Senator for Tasmania, Eric Abetz, has welcomed today’s announcement of new social media guidelines for staff, saying they will hopefully result in far fewer taxpayers’ money being lost to pay for the ABC’s legal costs for defamation brought against them.   

Today, the ABC’s Managing Director, David Anderson, said in a staff email: “As you may be aware, recently there have been a few high-profile defamation cases where public figures have chosen to sue over personal social media posts. What is separately created and posted on personal social media accounts is editorially and legally the responsibility of the owner of the accounts.”

The fact reference had to be made to defamation cases rather than inappropriateness of such activity highlighting gross bias, indicates the ABC still has a long way to go in changing its culture.

Senator Abetz, who has on numerous occasions questioned the ABC’s social media guidelines at Senate Estimates and asked questions on notice on the matter, said, “The new social media guidelines are welcomed but it is a shame that it appears they came into being as a result of social media posts incurring defamation lawsuits against the ABC’s staff rather than action being taken on its own accord.”

“It appears the ABC only wants its staff to be accountable when they start wasting taxpayers’ money on legal bills that run into the millions of dollars. “The ABC cries poor but if it had implemented these guidelines a long time ago then it might have been able to save some of the $26.3 million it spent on legal costs over the past four years.”     

“Hopefully, taxpayers can rest a little easier knowing that their hard-earned money may no longer go toward legal fees.”

Last month, it was reported in the media that the ABC said it did not have any documents that would breakdown the legal costs to reveal how much it paid out in defamation claims or out-of-court settlements and claimed confidentiality over some of that information.

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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