ACMA warns on networks lifting from Facebook

The use of information sourced from social networking sites such as Facebook has come under the scrutiny of the media watchdog, after Seven regional broadcaster STQ7 used images from a tribute page for a deceased woman.

A Seven Local News report included photographs of a woman and her family and friends accessed from a Facebook RIP tribute page, and a post entered by a 14 year old boy which included his name and Facebook profile photograph.

But the Australian Communications and Media Authority found that due to the open nature of the tribute page, Seven did not breach the privacy provisions of the code.

It has made it clear that the actual settings are not determinative.

ACMA also found that Seven breached two provisions of the Code relating to accuracy by incorrectly attributing a statement to a person in the broadcast, as well as failing to inform the complainant of the correct complaints handling procedures.

Seven’s punishment for the breaches is to provide staff with further code training.


  1. There is no such thing as privaacy on facebook. You might have your privacy settings that only your friends can see but they can then share your photos or whatever to whome they like. It is called social media because it is media. Anyone can publish on Facebook or Twitter. Not many are educated journos who know libel laws so the whole thing is a legal minefield and goverments have know idea how to deal with it. It is so powerful that it is bringing down bad regimes all around the world. It is legitimate for any media organisation to use Facebook as a source of information.It is not stealing or lazy but a genuine and smart way to get info that is already out there.

  2. perthnow stole a picture from a young deceased Perth mans Facebook album that died in a car crash yesterday, isn’t this a copyright issue or is it a case of if the pic isn’t registered so it belongs to everyone. its wrong and should not be allowed.

  3. Don’t let attribution get in the way of a good story.

    Privacy doesn’t factor into this at all.
    Reporting on a public page associated with the story is just completing the coverage.

    If the lifted content was the majority of the story, and the rest was just facts, then it’s hardly a shining example of the “high-calibre reportage” that networks tout on every third group of ads.

  4. Don’t post things in public. Check that the topic you are posting under has a small “world” icon, that means “public”. If you are starting a new topic or memorial page, make it private, otherwise it’s in the public domain and that’s that.

  5. There’s a thing called “Public Domain” which is why I don’t have anything to do with Facebook or whatever. Whatever is put on Facebook is out there for the world to see and use. From the story I gather the “breached two provisions” had nothing to do with Facebook.
    As for “failing to inform the complainant of the correct complaints handling procedures” how many time each day does 7/TEN/Prime/WIN/SBS/ABC run those “how to complain” spots? Has the “complainant” never seen them?

  6. My FB is set to private and my profile picture is not a profile pic. I think it’s disgusting when someone dies and the tb stations pilfer their FB page of personal photos so they have something to broadcast.

  7. Modern social media calls for “what others are saying on Facebook”.

    This is giving the green light for networks to use the “Facebook” site without consent and for as long as a story goes. Its not Ok if someone passes away, and a tribute page is launched, only to have no permission of showing the page. If a story contains “Facebook” information for almost 80%+ air time, it’s a Journalists easy way out.

    When the Bali Teen had his moment in the spotlight, I think his blurred image was his “Facebook profile image”. They even used “Facebook” during the Collar Bomb Hoax. It was the medias’ way of getting her name and an image.

    No one on “Facebook” can be safe from media. Media is like paparazzi and they stalk you for news!

  8. Um, if you are going to post on a public forum then you expect it to be public knowledge. Funny how some of the comments claim that the punishment is nothing but a slap on the wrist, i dont even see why there would be a punishment?

  9. Melissa Sweeney

    It makes for fairly lazy journalism when they are lifting straight from facebook pages too, did anyone see the “Big W” story yesterday about the non delivery? Two thirds of the story was comments lifted straight from the facebook page. Not particularly informative.

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