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Elon Musk refuses to comply with orders by Brazil’s Supreme Court, says X will risk ban in the country to stand for free speech

Neither Musk, X, nor Brazilian authorities have revealed whose social media accounts were ordered to be censored.

A dispute between Elon Musk and Brazil erupted on Sunday (7th April) when Supreme Court judge from Brazil Alexandre de Moraes started an investigation into the entrepreneur after Musk stated that he would reinstate accounts on the social media site X that the judge had disabled.

Musk, X’s owner and free speech absolutist, has contested Justice Alexandre de Moraes’ decision to block specific accounts. He has stated that X, formerly known as Twitter, will abolish all restrictions because they are unconstitutional, and has called for Moraes’ resignation.

Neither Musk, X, nor Brazilian authorities have revealed whose social media accounts were ordered to be censored. X initially mentioned the order to block these accounts on Saturday, although it wasn’t immediately apparent when it was issued.

Musk, in an X post on Saturday (6th April) evening, accused Moraes of “brazenly and repeatedly” undermining the Brazilian constitution and people.

“This judge has applied massive fines, threatened to arrest our employees, and cut off access to X in Brazil. As a result, we will probably lose all revenue in Brazil and have to shut down our office there. But principles matter more than profit,” Elon Musk said in a post.

The billionaire has committed to file a legal appeal to the order barring X accounts. Moraes responded on Sunday by including Musk in his investigation into fake news on social media, as well as initiating an inquiry into what he called an obstruction of justice.

In response, Moraes stated, “X shall refrain from disobeying any court order already issued, including performing any profile reactivation that has been blocked by this Supreme Court.”

If X fails to comply with the decision to restrict particular accounts, the firm would be fined 100,000 reais ($19,740) every day, Judge Moares stated in a statement to the media.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s leftist government backed Moraes, with Solicitor General Jorge Messias criticising Musk and advocating for social media regulation to prevent international platforms from breaking Brazilian laws.

Amid this, American author and journalist, Michael Shellenberger commented on the issue and said that ‘Brazil is on the brink of dictatorship at the hands of a totalitarian Supreme Court Justice named Alexandre de Moraes’.

“President Lula da Silva is participating in the push toward totalitarianism. Since taking office, Lula has massively increased government funding of the mainstream news media, most of which are encouraging increased censorship. What Lula and de Moraes are doing is an outrageous violation of Brazil’s constitution and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. At this moment, Brazil is not yet a dictatorship. It still has elections and the Brazilian people have other means at their disposal to confront authoritarianism. But the Federal Supreme Court and the Superior Electoral Court directly interfere in those elections through censorship,” he said.

Michael Shellenberger also added that a few days ago he published Twitter Files for Brazil in which he found that Moraes had violated the Brazilian Constitution.

“Moraes illegally demanded that Twitter reveal private information about Twitter users who used hashtags he considered inappropriate. He demanded access to Twitter’s internal data, violating the platform’s policy. He censored, on his own initiative and without any respect for due process, posts on Twitter by parliamentarians from the Brazilian Congress. And Moraes tried to turn Twitter’s content moderation policies into a weapon against supporters of then-president Jair Bolsonaro,” Shellenberger said.

“The Twitter Files also revealed that Google, Facebook, Uber, WhatsApp and Instagram betrayed the people of Brazil. If such evidence is proven, the executives of these companies behaved like cowards: they provided the Brazilian government with personal registration data and telephone numbers without a court order and, therefore, violating the law,” Shellenberger added.

Twitter Files Brazil

Brazil is conducting a massive crackdown on free expression, overseen by a Supreme Court justice named Alexandre de Moraes. De Moraes has imprisoned people without trial for what they posted on social media. He has also called for the expulsion of users from social media platforms. Moraes has ordered the removal of individual posts without providing users with an appeals process or even the ability to view the information provided against them.

Now, Twitter Files, disclosed for the first time, demonstrate that de Moraes and the Superior Electoral Court he supervises attempted to damage Brazilian democracy. As per Shellenberger, Moraes illegally demanded that Twitter divulge personal information about Twitter users who used hashtags he disliked. Moraes and the Court wanted access to Twitter’s internal data, which violated Twitter policy. They attempted to unilaterally ban Twitter posts through current members of Brazil’s Congress. They also aimed to use Twitter’s content restriction measures against supporters of then-President Jair Bolsonaro.

In 2023, the Moraes-led TSE deemed the former president ineligible to compete for the government for spreading misleading information about Brazil’s election system.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
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