Dylan Voller at a protest in 2017 (Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

The High Court has emphatically pronounced that media organisations are liable for defamatory comments posted by punters on their Facebook pages. The ruling, by a 5-2 majority, ends that debate.

The case is that of Dylan Voller, the young victim of appallingly inhumane treatment within the Northern Territory’s juvenile detention system. He is suing various media outlets -- not for their reporting of his story but for the vile and disgusting comments by people on the Facebook pages where the outlets post their articles and invite comment.

The case hasn’t been heard yet. A preliminary question first had to go to the High Court: are the media “publishers” of the defamatory comments they didn’t write, didn’t know about (because they don’t and can’t read the comments before they’re posted) and can’t effectively moderate unless they disable comments altogether?