Google Ordered To Cough Up $500K For 'Relentless, Racist' Campaign Against Australian Politician

An Australian court has ordered Alphabet Inc GOOGL GOOG to pay AU$715,000 ($515,000) to a former lawmaker in defamation damages over two videos posted on its social media platform YouTube.

What Happened: The Federal Court said the social media giant intentionally made money by hosting two videos on its platform that allegedly attacked the then-deputy premier of New South Wales, John Barilaro, and drove him out of politics.

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The videos have been viewed nearly 800,000 times since being posted in 2020.

According to a Reuters report, Judge Steven Rares said the videos hosted by YouTube amounted to a "relentless, racist, vilificatory, abusive and defamatory campaign" against Barilaro.

The videos posted by political commentator Jordan Shanks repeatedly branded Barilaro as "corrupt" without citing credible evidence and called him names, attacking his Italian heritage, which according to Rares, amounted to "nothing less than hate speech."

The report pointed out that Shanks, who has around 625,000 YouTube subscribers and 346,000 followers on Meta Platforms Inc's FB Facebook, was a co-defendant in the case until a settlement with Barilaro last year. Post this, the YouTuber edited the videos and paid the former politician AU$100,000 ($72,110).

Barilaro told local reporters outside the court that he felt "cleared and vindicated," adding that "it was never about money, it was about an apology, removal."

"Of course, now an apology is worthless after the campaign has continued. It's taken a court to force Google's hand," he added.

Why It Matters: The ruling comes as a major setback for the internet giant, which is already facing the heat of regulatory challenges in several countries.

Recently, India also sought public comments to amend the information technology rules. The government is mulling appointing appeal panels to take final calls on content takedown from platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Twitter Inc TWTR.

Price Action: According to data from Benzinga Pro, Alphabet Inc Class A shares closed 2.62% lower at $2,290 apiece, whereas Alphabet Inc Class C shares closed 2.70% lower at $2,291 on Friday.

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