Lord Justice Leveson has suggested that social networks like Twitter and Facebook could be treated differently to news organisations in any future media regulation reforms.
The judge is presiding over an investigation into the ethics, practices and culture of the media following the phone hacking scandal.
He says that online news organisations publishing news are different from people having conversations on Facebook regarding news and should be treated as such.
He said: "I think that I might see there is a distinction between Facebook, where one person is communicating with their friends, or Twitter, and organisations that are in the business of selling themselves with reference to news or information.
"That is the difference between the pub chatter, to take the analogy that was mentioned before, and that which the state – I don't mean government, I say immediately, but the broad corpus of all of us – has an interest in seeing as a level playing field."
The deliberations could eventually see a new set of rules introduced for the social networks differentiating them from online newspapers or news aggregators.
The debate has centred around complaints from well-known celebrities that they are powerless to stop the spread of often false information with no recourse.
JK Rowling complained to Justice Leveson last year that "a lie can spread around the world before the truth had got its boots on," after complaining about family photos appearing online.
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