Australian court orders Google to pay former lawmaker $515,000 over defamatory YouTube videos

After finding that a YouTube commentator’s “relentless, racist, denigrating, abusive and defamatory campaign” caused John Barilaro to quit politics prematurely, an Australian court ordered Google to pay A$715,000 ($515,000) to the former senior legislator.

Barilaro, who was deputy premier of Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, has been branded “corrupt” without proof by political commentator Jordan Shanks.

Shanks, who has accused Barilaro of being racist in his YouTube videos, is a comedian who discusses contemporary Australian political issues, involving self-proclaimed “lowbrow humour”.

The well-known Australian comedian, also known as friendlyjordies, used an Italian accent to poke fun at Barilaro’s legacy in his videos.

Australian judge Steve Rares says Shanks’ videos were ‘nothing short of hate speech’ and traumatized Barilaro so much they forced him out of public office and out of politics in October 2021 .

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After evidence proved that by attacking Barilaro in videos that have been viewed nearly 800,000 times since they were posted in late 2020, Alphabet Inc’s Google-owned YouTube has earned thousands of dollars, Rares told the Federal Court that “I have concluded that Google’s conduct in this proceeding was to be improper and unjustifiable.”

He added that Google was willing to join the comedian “to generate revenue as part of its business model” and that Shanks “needs YouTube to spread his poison.”

Barilaro had reached an agreement with a spokesperson for Shanks, who was previously co-accused with Google, in 2021, after which friendlyjordies issued an apology and agreed to edit the videos. He sued Google for defamation after the tech giant refused to remove the offending videos.

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 4:07am on Thursday June 16th, 2022

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