Google ordered to pay up in defamation case

STORY: In a rare defamation ruling against Google, an Australian court has ordered the company to pay a former lawmaker fines that amount to more than $500,000 U.S. dollars.

The court found Google parent Alphabet intentionally made money off of two videos posted on YouTube in 2020, videos that attacked John Barilaro, the then-deputy premier of New South Wales and drove him to quit politics.

According to the judge, the videos amounted to a "relentless, racist…and defamatory campaign."

He also said the failure of Google to take down the videos had traumatized Barilaro.

The court heard that content creator Jordan Shanks uploaded videos where he calls Barilaro "corrupt" without citing credible evidence and calls him names attacking his Italian heritage.

Barilaro quite a year after the videos were posted.

On Monday, he walked out of court saying he felt vindicated.

“It was never about money, it was about an apology, removal. And of course, now, I mean an apology is worthless after, as I said the campaign has continued. Stuff remains online and it's taken the court to force Google's hand."

The ruling raises the question again of how culpable tech companies are for defamation by their users in Australia.

A landmark case last year that found a newspaper was liable for reader comments on Facebook led global companies to pull back their social media presence in Australia.

Monday's judgment showed Google had denied the videos carried defamatory claims.

A spokesperson for the company was not available for comment.

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