An Australian court on Monday ordered Google to pay a former lawmaker A$715,000 ($515,000), saying its refusal to remove a YouTuber’s “relentless, racist, vilificatory, abusive and defamatory” videos drove him out of politics.
The Federal Court found the Alphabet company intentionally made money by hosting two videos on its YouTube website attacking the then-deputy premier of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, that have been viewed nearly 800,000 times since being posted in 2020.
The ruling revives the question of how much culpability technology firms have for defamation conveyed by users on their websites in Australia, one of few Western nations where online platforms have the same legal responsibility as publishers.
Australia is reviewing what legal exposure platforms should have for defamatory posts. A landmark case in 2021, where a newspaper was found liable for defamatory reader comments below an article posted on Facebook, drove global firms to reduce their social media presence in the country.
The judgment showed Google had denied the videos carried defamatory imputations, and said the YouTuber had the right to an honestly held opinion and should be protected by the right to criticize a politician.