Google ordered to pay Australian politician for YouTube videos

Google ordered to pay Australian politician for YouTube videos

The Google logo appears on a building in the La Defense business and financial district in Courbevoie near Paris, France, September 1, 2020.

Charles Plateau | Reuters

An Australian court on Monday ordered Google to pay A$715,000 ($515,000) to a former lawmaker, saying its refusal to remove a YouTube user’s “radical, racist, defamatory and defamatory” videos kept him out of politics.

The federal court has found that Alphabet made money intentionally by hosting two videos on its YouTube attacking the then Deputy Prime Minister in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, which have been viewed nearly 800,000 times since they were posted in 2020. .

The ruling revives the question of how responsible tech companies are for defamation transmitted by users on their websites in Australia, one of the few Western countries where online platforms have the same legal responsibility as publishers.

Australia is reviewing what platforms must provide for legal exposure to defamatory posts. A high-profile case in 2021 in which a newspaper was found responsible for defamatory reader comments below an article posted on Facebook prompted global companies to reduce their social media presence in the country.

The ruling showed that Google had denied that the videos carried defamatory accusations, and said a YouTuber had a right to an honest opinion and should be protected by the right to criticize politically.

A Google spokesperson was not available for comment.

“They (Google) were notified of the existence of those defamatory videos, they looked into them, decided for themselves that they didn’t exist, and left them,” said Professor David Rolfe, who specializes in media law at the University of Sydney. Law School.

“This is an orthodox application of the basic principles of publication in defamation law (but) leaves the larger question of whether we need to reform the principles of publication.”

hate speech

The court heard that content creator Jordan Shanks uploaded videos in which he repeatedly called Representative John Barillaro “corrupt” without citing credible evidence, and called him names attacking his Italian heritage which Judge Steve Rarris said was “nothing short of hate speech”.

By continuing to post content, Rares said Google had violated its own policies aimed at protecting public figures from unfair targeting, and “prematurely removed Mr. Barillaro from his service of choice in public life and deeply traumatized him”.

Barillaro resigned from politics a year after Shanks posted the videos, and Rares said, “Google cannot escape its responsibility for the significant damage Shanks’ campaign has caused.”

Shanks, who has 625,000 YouTube subscribers and 346,000 followers on Facebook’s Meta Platform, was a co-defendant until a settlement with Barilaro last year that involved YouTube editing videos and a payment of A$100,000 to the former politician.

The judge said Shanks “needed YouTube to spread his poison (and) Google was willing to join Shanks in doing so to earn revenue as part of its business model.”

Before adjudicating the lawsuit, Shanks continued to make derogatory comments about Barillaro and his attorney in YouTube videos, and the judge said he would refer him and Google to authorities for “what appears to be serious contempt for the court through improper pressure.. — not to pursue this.”
Procedure “.

In a Facebook post after the verdict, Shanks, who deals with friendly friends, taunted Barillaro, saying, “I finally got the coin from Google…without ever testing the truth in court.”

Shanks added, without evidence, that Barillaro “retracted his actions against us so that we would not testify or provide evidence” to support the YouTubers’ claims.

Barillaro told reporters outside the courtroom that he felt “purified and justified”.

“It wasn’t about the money,” he said. “It was about an apology and removal. Of course, now a worthless apology after the campaign has gone on. Google’s hand has been taken to court.”

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