Google has ordered the Australian politician to pay for defamatory videos on YouTube

The federal court found Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) the company deliberately made money by hosting two videos on its YouTube website attacking the then deputy prime minister of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, which has been viewed nearly 800,000 times since its publication in 2020.

The decision revives the question of how guilty technology companies are of defamation passed on by users of their websites in Australia, one of the few Western countries where online platforms have the same legal responsibility as publishers.

Australia is reviewing what legal platforms it should have for defamatory publications. A spectacular case in 2021, in which a newspaper was found responsible for defamatory comments from readers under an article published on Facebook, led global companies to reduce their presence on social media in the country.

The verdict showed that Google had denied that the videos contained defamatory allegations, and said YouTuber had a right to an honest opinion and should be protected from the right to criticize a politician.

A Google spokesperson was not available for comment.

“They (Google) were advised that these slanderous videos were there, they looked at them, they decided they weren’t, and they left them,” said Professor David Rolfe, a media law specialist at the University of Sydney’s School of Law.

“This orthodox application of the basic principles of publication in the Defamation Act (but) leaves the bigger question of whether we should reform the principles of publication.”

Hate speech

The court heard that content creator Jordan Shanks had uploaded videos repeatedly denouncing MP John Barillaro as “corrupt” without citing credible evidence, calling him names attacking his Italian heritage, which Judge Steve Rares said represented ” nothing less than hate speech. ‘ “.

Continuing to publish the content, Rares said that Google had violated its own policies aimed at protecting public figures from unfair targeting, and “prematurely expelled Mr. Barillaro from his chosen service in public life and traumatized him significantly.”

Barillaro left politics a year after Shanks released the videos, and “Google cannot escape responsibility for the significant damage caused by Mr Shanks’ campaign,” Rares said.

Shanks, who has 625,000 YouTube subscribers and 346,000 Facebook followers at Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O), was a co-defendant in an agreement with Barillaro last year that involved YouTuber editing videos and paying the former politician $ 100,000. .

But Shanks “needed YouTube to spread its poison (s). Google was ready to join Mr Shanks in making revenue as part of its business model,” the judge said.

Before the case was resolved, Shanks continued to make contemptuous comments about Barillaro and his lawyers in YouTube videos, and the judge said he would refer him and Google to the authorities “for what appears to be serious contempt of court by exerting undue pressure.” … not to continue this proceedings. “

In a post on Facebook after the decision, Shanks, who mocks friendly Jordes, mocked Barillaro, saying that “you finally got the coin from Google … without ever checking the truth in court.”

Shanks added, without evidence, that Barillaro “withdrew (his) actions against us so that we would not testify or present our evidence” in support of YouTube’s claims.

Barillaro told reporters in front of the courthouse that he felt “clean and justified.”

“It was never about money,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then. Of course, now the apology is useless after the campaign continues. It took a court to impose a hand on Google. “

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