SYDNEY — An Australian court on Monday ordered Google to pay a former lawmaker A$715,000 ($515,000), saying its failure to take down a YouTuber’s “relentless, racist, vilificatory, abusive and defamatory campaign” of videos drove him out of politics.
The Federal Court found the Alphabet Inc company, which owns content-sharing website YouTube, made money by broadcasting two videos attacking the then-deputy premier of New South Wales – Australia’s most populous state – that have been viewed nearly 800,000 times since being posted in late 2020.
Google has been found liable for defamation before, generally for supplying links to articles in search results, but Monday’s ruling is one of the first where the firm was deemed an active publisher – via YouTube – of content that defamed an elected official.
In Australia, a review of defamation law is examining whether online platforms should be held accountable for defamatory content they host. Google and other internet giants argue they cannot be reasonably expected to police all posts.
A Google spokesperson was not available for comment.
The court heard that content creator Jordan Shanks uploaded videos in which he repeatedly brands lawmaker John Barilaro “corrupt” without citing credible evidence, and calls him names attacking his Italian heritage which the judge, Steve Rares, said amounted to “nothing less than hate speech.”
By continuing to publish the content, Google breached its own policies of protecting public figures…
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