Feb / 15

Locked Out of a Social Media Account & Defamation

Sharon Givoni Consulting Internet Law, Social Media

The words we use. AI and social media: Hate speech, defamation and algorithms.

Platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are increasingly using artificial intelligence technology to help stop the spread of hateful speech on their networks.

Often referred to as “offensive speech detection algorithms”, the point of the software is to flag racist or violent speech through complex algorithms much faster than human beings possibly can.

These algorithms typically use natural language processing (NLP) techniques to analyse the text and identify patterns and markers.


One of the well-known challenges of designing and training offensive speech detection algorithms is the potential for biases to be introduced.

These biases can arise from a number of factors, such as the training data used to develop the algorithm, the choice of features used to identify offensive language, or the cultural and social context in which the algorithm is applied.

For example, an algorithm trained on data primarily sourced from a specific region or demographic may not be as effective at detecting offensive language used in different contexts.

As a result of these biases, there is a risk that offensive speech detection algorithms may not accurately identify offensive language, or may flag harmless language as offensive.

This can lead to false positives or false negatives, which can have consequences for users of social media platforms.

Offensive speech detection algorithms

Offensive speech detection algorithms that automatically flag and remove content that is deemed to be offensive or harmful can include posts or comments that contain hate speech, threats, or other forms of abusive language.

But there is also one other thing to keep in mind: this sort of content can also be defamatory.

Under defamation law in Australia, written material, pictures, or spoken statements that are published can give rise to a claim for defamation. Defamatory material can also include social media posts, comments and replies to social media posts.

The Australian courts have said that you can be found liable for defamation for sharing a post, for example retweeting on Twitter – even if you did not create the defamatory material. Many people are surprised to hear that!

Locked out?

In some cases, users of social media platforms may be locked out of their accounts if offensive language is detected.

However, this is not a universal practice, and different platforms may have different policies and procedures for dealing with offensive content.

Some platforms may provide warnings or notifications to users if offensive language is detected, while others may rely on human moderators to review and make decisions about potentially offensive content.

Credit: Miukotoraw Photographer

Concluding tips

Overall, the use of offensive speech detection algorithms on social media platforms can be a useful tool for identifying and addressing harmful content.

However, it is important to be aware of the potential biases that can be introduced, and to ensure that these algorithms are used in a way that is fair, transparent, and consistent with user privacy and free speech rights.

The words that are detected by AI as being offensive in social media can vary but some typical words and phrases that may be flagged by offensive speech detection algorithms include profanity, racial slurs, sexist language, homophobic language, and other forms of hate speech.

Also, bear in mind that if you publish content that is untrue and harms another person’s reputation that can amount to defamation, even if it’s just a seemingly innocent retweet!

Credit: Andrea Piacuado

How can we help you?

If you have been locked out of your social media account or require advice in relation to defamation and social media we can assist. Contact us.

Article by Sharon Givoni, Principal Solicitor
Sharon Givoni Consulting

Please note the above article is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice.
This article was written by Sharon Givoni, Principal Solicitor at the law firm Sharon Givoni Consulting (https://www.sharongivoni.com.au/). We do a lot of work in the area of interior design and understand the industry.

Please email us info@iplegal.com.au if you need legal advice about your brand or another legal matter in this area generally.