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Google lost defamation case against Australian politician, to pay $500,000 in damages

On Monday, Australia’s federal court ordered Google to pay more than $500,000 in damages to a politician after finding out that he had been defamed by a comedian’s videos hosted on YouTube.

John Barilaro was deputy premier of the state of New South Wales in 2020, when an Australian comedian known as friendlyjordies uploaded a series of videos to YouTube, accusing the politician of corruption and even usee an Italian accent to make fun of his heritage.

Barilaro labelled the videos racist, and broke down in court watching one that had been filmed by friendlyjordies at a luxurious property that the he owned and rented out on Airbnb.

“I’m traumatised by it,” Barilaro said during his testimony.

Barilaro made settlement with friendlyjorares, whose real name is Jordan Shanks, in late 2021, with the comedian issuing an apology and agreeing to edit the videos, which have now been viewed more than one million times on YouTube.

While Google, which owns YouTube, had defended the case in the beginning. The search giant eventually abandoned its defences, some of which the court said were “obviously hopeless”.

Justice Steven Rares held Google liable for the harm caused to Barilaro from December 2020 — when the politician’s lawyers wrote to the demanding the offending videos be removed — and commanded it to pay the aggravated damages.

The judge found Google’s publication of the videos drove Barilaro from public office prematurely, he resigned from parliament in October 2020 – “and traumatised him significantly”.