Mayor Tracy Dobie
Mayor Tracy Dobie Marian Faa

Council to consider suing people over social media comments

SOUTHERN Downs Regional Council is considering legal action against people who have posted defamatory comments on social media about councillors, their family members, and council staff.

In a statement yesterday, the council said it had "recently become concerned over the defamatory comments circulating on some social media sites about Councillors, their family members and Council staff".

"Council does not believe this behaviour should go unchallenged," the statement said.

"It has enlisted the legal advice of law firm McCullough Robertson and will consider appropriate action against offending sites if necessary."

SDRC mayor Tracy Dobie said a line had been crossed with posts and comments, and the negative impact of social media harassment and slander extended beyond the defamed individuals.

"Council will not stand in the way of freedom of speech as it is a fundamental constitutional right. However there is a fine line between freedom of speech and defamation, and certain social media sites have crossed that line," she said.

"Recent posts and comments loaded onto some social media sites are false, misleading and damaging to the reputations of councillors, their family members and council staff. Even more detrimental is the damage to the reputation of the Southern Downs at a time when the region is vulnerable and crippled by drought.

"This type of behaviour and harassment sets an appalling example to our younger generation. Enough is enough. Council is prepared to stand up against online harassment, slander and stalking and take action if necessary.

"It's about the misrepresentation of individuals in the media."

According to legal firm McCullough Robertson, the posted comments go far beyond legitimate public discourse as they are published with the intent to embarrass and demean the individuals who are the subject of those statements, the council's statement said. 

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