Google fined $500,000 after losing defamation case against Australian politician

An Australian federal court ordered Google to pay a lawmaker more than $500,000 in damages after determining that a comedian’s YouTube videos had defamed him.

In 2020, John Barilaro was the deputy premier of the Australian state of New South Wales when an Australian comedian known as friendlyjordies posted a series of videos on YouTube accusing him of corruption and mocking his Italian background.

Barilaro slammed the films as racist and sobbed in court upon viewing one taken by friendlyjordies at a posh home that the politician owned and rented out on Airbnb.

During his testimony, Barilaro remarked, “I’m traumatized by it.”

In late 2021, Barilaro reached an agreement with friendlyjordies, whose actual name is Jordan Shanks, in which the comic apologized and agreed to alter the films, which have since been seen over one million times on YouTube.

While Google, which owns YouTube, first contested the lawsuit, it finally dropped some of its arguments, which the court described as “clearly futile.”

Google was judged accountable for the injury caused to Barilaro beginning in December 2020, when the politician’s attorneys wrote to the corporation asking the offending films be deleted, and was sentenced to pay aggravated damages by Justice Steven Rares.

The judge decided that Google’s release of the films forced Barilaro out of public service prematurely (he resigned from parliament in October 2020) and “seriously traumatised” him.

Shanks “needs YouTube to distribute his poison,” he added, adding that Google was eager to work with him “to make income as part of its business strategy.”

A request for comment has been sent to Google.

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