Post dog pics, not gripes, expert warns

Cute animals, sunset pictures and holiday spam.

That ought to be the scope of social media posts according to Australian Catholic University senior lecturer Trajce Cvetkovski who has noted the destructive and costly legal consequences of "weaponised" online activity.

Western Australia senator Linda Reynolds is suing former Canberra political staffer Brittany Higgins over two social media posts.

In a writ filed in the WA Supreme Court, Ms Reynolds has alleged Ms Higgins defamed her in two separate posts, one on Instagram and one on Twitter.

photo of Dr CvetkovskiDr Cvetkovski, a former prosecutor for the Queensland Office of Industrial Relations and host of the WhyWork podcast, also cited the recent example of a beauty clinic awarded $82,500 in damages after an Instagram post by a former employee was found by the Brisbane District Court to be defamatory.

The judgment was a reminder of the changing landscape of defamation liability, and that small businesses and individuals, not just mainstream media, are bound by the legislation.

"Social media can be a web of grief. Use it sparingly for furry animals doing cute things, sunsets and fancy meals," he said.

"It should be a platform to exchange social things. When it becomes politicised, or weaponised for personal or industrial reasons, then such behaviour leads to disruptive, dangerous, and unacceptable conduct which could be deemed misconduct."

Complaining about work conditions, criticising a colleague or making accusations against an employer could lead to dismissal. And the consequences could be long term.

"My advice is to resist the urge to participate in disruptive movements because employers are watching - always watching," Dr Cvetkovski said.

"And so are future employers. A split-second decision to post is not easy to retrieve as others may repost, screenshot and so on."

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