'Paedophile' libel: Google fined

2010-04-25 18:51

Sao Paulo - Google has been fined $8 500 in Brazil after an anonymous internet user posted defamatory messages on one of its sites against a priest, calling him a "paedophile", local media reported on Sunday.

A court in the state of Minas Gerais ruled in favour of the 54-year-old priest, identified by his initials J R, after rejecting Google's argument that the US web giant was not responsible for what users posted on its Orkut social networking site.

The verdict upheld a lower court's judgement made after the priest sued for defamation in 2008 over the post, which called him "the paedophile... the thief who has a lover," according to the O Globo daily.

"By making space available on virtual networking sites, in which users can post any type of message without any checks beforehand, with offensive and injurious content, and, in many cases, of unknown origin, (Google) assumes the risk of causing damage" to other people, Judge Alvimar de Avila said.

Google's Orkut is a hugely popular networking site in Brazil, although a Portuguese-language version of Facebook is now making serious inroads into its dominance.