Google fined 515k USD

Google fined 515k USD in defamation lawsuit

Image Source: BBC

On Monday, an Australian court ordered Google to pay A$715,000 ($515,000) to a former legislator, claiming that the company’s unwillingness to remove a YouTuber’s “abusive, defamatory, relentless, and racist” videos forced him out of politics.

The Federal Court determined that Alphabet Inc (the parent company of Google and YouTube) made money by publishing two films on its website that attacked the then-deputy premier of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, has been seen nearly 800,000 times since their release in 2020.

The decision raises questions how much responsibility technology companies bear for defamation spread by users on their websites in Australia, one of the few Western countries where internet platforms are held to the same legal standards as publishers.

Australia is considering what legal exposure platforms for defamatory posts it should have. In 2021, a historic case in which a newspaper was found accountable for libelous reader comments below a Facebook article pushed international companies to curtail their social media presence in the country.

According to the ruling, the YouTuber had the right to an honestly held opinion, which should be protected by the freedom to criticize a politician.

A Google spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

Professor David Rolph, a specialist in media law at the University of Sydney Law School, said Google was initially warned that the video contained defamatory words, but after doing their independent examination, they found that it did not.

Jordan Shanks, a content creator, allegedly released videos in which he repeatedly calls politician John Barilaro “corrupt” without presenting reliable proof and insults his Italian ethnicity, which the judge, Steve Rares, described as “nothing less than hate speech.”

Google, according to Rares, broke its regulations aimed at safeguarding public figures from being unfairly targeted by continuing to post the content. As a result, “Mr. Barilaro’s chosen service in public life was cut short, and he was severely scarred as a result.

Even though Barilaro left politics a year after Shanks aired the tapes, Rares claims that Google cannot be held liable for the significant damage that Mr. Shanks’ campaign produced.

Shanks, who has 625,000 YouTube subscribers and 346,000 Facebook followers, was a co-defendant until a deal with Barilaro last year, in which the YouTuber edited the videos and paid the former politician A$100,000.
According to the judgment, Shanks needed YouTube to propagate his poison, and Google was eager to collaborate with Mr. Shanks to gain cash as part of its business plan.

Shanks continued to make derogatory comments about Barilaro and his lawyers in YouTube videos before the lawsuit was settled, and the judge said he would report him and Google to the authorities “for what appears to be serious contempt of court by putting improper pressure on the court not to pursue this proceeding.”

Outside the courts, Barilaro expressed his dissatisfaction with the system. “Cleared and vindicated,” he said, adding that the lawsuit was never about money but rather a demand for an apology and expulsion.


Opinions expressed by San Francisco Post contributors are their own.

Jennifer Smith

A social-media savvy and works as an IT consultant on a communication firm in Los Angeles. She manages her blog site and a part-time writer.

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