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Google has lost its defamation case against an Australian politician

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On Monday, 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 called the films racist and sobbed in court upon watching one taken by friendlyjordies at a posh home 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 real name is Jordan Shanks, in which the comic apologized and agreed to alter the films, which have since been viewed over one million times on YouTube.

While Google, which owns YouTube, initially 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 lawyers wrote to the corporation demanding the offending films be removed, and was forced to pay aggravated damages.

The judge concluded that Google’s release of the tapes 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 made to Google.

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