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Social media expert sought by media giant

Lachlan Murdoch, media scion is trying to rely upon the evidence from a social media expert for his defamation battle with an online publisher CrikeyThe Federal Court heard the matter, but the parties continue to be at odds over pre-trial issues.

Sydney barrister Sue Chrysanthou, SC, acting for Murdoch, told the court on Wednesday that social media was “the modern-day grapevine” and alleged Crikey had paid for some posts about her client “to be promoted and advertised”.

Eric Beecher, Private Media Chairman and Lachlan Murphy as well as the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.Credit:Jessica Hromas, Thom Rigney, AP

“We want the expert to address that issue, and the effect of promoting particular posts and how that then causes those posts to appear in different people’s feeds, even if they haven’t gone to the post themselves,” she said.

Chrysanthou stated that expert evidence regarding the reach of the posts was relevant for the potential damages award and the new serious injury test, which is law in most Australian jurisdictions, including NSW where Chrysanthou will be appearing.

Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox Corporation, and the elder son of Rupert media baron, filed defamation proceedings against him in August Crikey over a June 29 article naming his family as “unindicted co-conspirators” of former US president Donald Trump following the deadly US Capitol riots in 2021.

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Murdoch claims the article conveys up to 14 false and defamatory meanings including that he “illegally conspired with Donald Trump to incite an armed mob to march on the Capitol” following the 2020 presidential election.

Crikey None of the alleged meanings are denied by the publisher. The publisher also disputes that the article satisfied the serious harm test, aimed at weeding out trivial claims, which requires the person bringing a defamation case to show that the publication “has caused, or is likely to cause, serious harm” to their reputation.

Justice Michael Wigney determines that at least some of these meanings were conveyed, and the serious injury test is satisfied. Crikey The government is attempting to rely on part of a new public-interest defense that was established last year in NSW.

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Jacky

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