ACMA clears Seven Network of alleged Facebook privacy breach

The television network breached two provisions relating to accuracy, complaints handling but did not breach privacy provisions

A Seven Local News report, which used images from a Facebook rest in peace (RIP) tribute page, has been found by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) not to be in breach of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2010.

The news item included photographs of a woman, her family and friends accessed from the tribute page, and a post from a 14-year-old boy which revealed his name and Facebook profile photo.

The ACMA found that due to the open nature of the tribute page, the absence of privacy settings and the non-sensitive nature of the photographs, Seven did not breach privacy provisions in the code.

“In this case, the report did not disclose sensitive information concerning the health or welfare of the child, or report on a criminal matter involving his immediate family,” said a spokesperson.

The spokesperson added that while ACMA made it clear that it considers the use of privacy settings an important consideration when assessing material obtained from social networking websites, the actual settings are not determinative.

However, the investigation also found that Seven breached two provisions of the code relating to accuracy by incorrectly attributing a statement to a person in the broadcast, and by failing to inform the complainant of the correct complaints handling procedures.

In response to the findings, Seven will provide its staff with more code training and incorporate ACMA’s report into training materials.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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