The Federal Court of Australia ordered Google to pay politician John Barilaro, A$715,000 Monday in a landmark defamation case. The court determined that YouTube videos from content creator Jordan Shanks, also known as “friendlyjordies,” calling Barilaro “corrupt” and mocking Barilaro’s Italian heritage violated Australia’s defamation laws.
According to the ruling, Shanks statements led to “relentless, racist, vilificatory, abusive and defamatory” attacks from Shanks and others on social media. This allegedly led to Barilaro’s retirement from politics. The judgement goes on to say:
I accept Mr Barilaro’s evidence…of the traumatic impacts on him of Google’s conduct in permitting the videos to remain online when knowing of their content and their nature. Google’s conduct keeping the videos online was an essential aspect to assist Mr Shanks in his campaign. It has been a direct cause of driving Mr Barilaro prematurely from public office and bringing him into public hatred, ridicule and contempt.
While Shanks and Barilaro had previously settled their initial lawsuit prior to the judgement in Barilaro’s case against Google, the new judgement also accuses Shanks of “what appear to be serious contempts of court by bringing improper pressure… not to pursue this proceeding.”
Australia is one of only a few countries where social media platforms can be held liable for defamatory posts on their sites, which courts have upheld in prior cases.