John Barilaro, the former deputy premier of NSW, got a huge payout from Google.
John Barilaro, who used to be the deputy premier of NSW, will get a huge payment from Google because it kept “racist and vindictive” videos online.
John Barilaro, the former deputy premier of NSW, was given a $715,000 payout after a court found that Google had put up multiple videos making fun of the politician’s Italian background and making him look like a crooked con man.
Mr. Barilaro took Google, which owns YouTube, to court for not taking down videos that he said were “vulgar,” “offensive,” and ultimately hurt his reputation.
Mr. Barilaro went to the Federal Court on Monday morning. Justice Steven Rares said that the former leader of the NSW Nationals had the right to not have his reputation “publicly vilified because of his race or ethnic origin.”
Justice Rares found that Google slandered Mr. Barilaro by leaving two videos online that “conveyed false defamatory imputations… that he is a corrupt con man, lied, and should be in jail.”
He told the court that as a senior politician, Mr. Barilaro could “expect to face strong public criticism” and was ready for this.
Justice Rares told the court, “The right to criticize is not a license to defame, cyberbully, use hate speech, or make baseless attacks on anyone, even a well-known and controversial politician.”
The videos, called “Bruz” and “Secret Dictatorship,” were made in 2020 by Jordan Shanks, a well-known comedian and political commentator who has a lot of fans on his Friendlyjordies social media accounts.
Last year, Mr. Shanks apologized to Mr. Barilaro through his lawyer for the “hurt” that the offensive videos caused. As part of a settlement, Mr. Shanks paid $100,000 in legal fees and made changes to the two videos that are still on YouTube.
Google never reached a settlement, and it fought back against claims that it was wrong to let the videos be put on YouTube in many ways.
But most of the defenses were dropped, and the tech giant said the videos were kept online because they were good for the public.
Justice Rares said, “Some of those defenses were obviously hopeless.”
“I thought it was wrong for Google to publish the things that were criticized.
Google has said in public that it has rules about what can be posted on YouTube that ban hate speech, cyberbullying, and harassment. This information was given to the court.
But Justice Rares said that Google “did not follow its own rules” because it did nothing to stop Mr. Shanks from saying hateful things about Mr. Barilaro and bothering him.
During the trial, Mr. Barilaro said that he had been “broken emotionally,” which caused him to quit politics.
“I couldn’t go through with another election… I was done. I was broken. I felt bad. Mr. Barilaro said, “I had nothing left in the tank.”
Justice Rares said that Google tried to “distance itself” from Mr. Shanks’ publications, but that it was an example of how the tech giant “failed to take responsibility for its conduct as a publisher.”
The court was told that Google did not just “stand by” and that putting the videos on YouTube brought in “significant revenue.”
“It could have decided if they stayed on YouTube or not, but instead it did nothing,” he said.
“Even though Google was told in late 2020 that the videos were racist, had hate speech, and were used for cyberbullying, it left all of those videos online and let more of them go on YouTube.”
Justice Rares found that Google “ignored the deeply offensive and racist use of language” by Mr. Shanks, such as his “vengeful use of ‘wog,’ ‘greasy,’ ‘greasy little scrotum,”meatball,’ and links to the Italian mafia.”
He told the court that what Google did was “wrong and can’t be explained.”
Justice Rares said, “The behavior made the damage to Mr. Barilaro’s reputation and the pain he felt very much worse.”
“It is important to give Mr. Barilaro a lot of money in damages to make up for what Google did to him and restore his good name.”
He told Google to pay Mr. Barilaro $675,000 in damages and $40,000 in interest before the case went to court.
Google will have to pay a total of $715,000 to settle the case.
In a statement, Mr. Barilaro said he was glad that the Federal Court had “finally cleared his name.”
He said, “This brings an end to a hard time for me.”
“At first, all I wanted was for Google to take down these videos, but they wouldn’t do it. Taking on a company like Google as a single person isn’t easy, but it was important for me to do so. This decision is a great way to end ten years of service to the public.”