Musk Challenges Brazil’s Order to Block Certain X Accounts

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo
Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer of Tesla and owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, attends the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France, June 16, 2023.

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Elon Musk is challenging a decision by a Supreme Court justice in Brazil who ordered his social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, to block certain accounts, and he called on Sunday for the judge’s resignation.

“This judge has brazenly and repeatedly betrayed the constitution and people of Brazil. He should resign or be impeached. Shame @Alexandre, shame,” Musk posted on X.

In an earlier post, Musk said X was lifting all the restrictions decided by Justice Alexandre de Moraes on certain undisclosed accounts in Brazil and would publish details of the order despite the judge’s prohibition on doing so.

“This judge has applied massive fines, threatened to arrest our employees and cut off access to X in Brazil,” Musk posted on Saturday evening. “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.”

Musk promised to legally challenge the order where possible.

Brazil’s solicitor general, Jorge Messias, criticized Musk’s decision and called for regulation of social media networks to prevent foreign platforms from violating Brazilian laws.

“We cannot live in a society in which billionaires domiciled abroad have control of social networks and put themselves in a position to violate the rule of law, failing to comply with court orders and threatening our authorities,” Messias said in a post on X.

X Corp had been “forced by court decisions” to block certain popular accounts in Brazil and was prohibited from giving details of the order or which judge issued it, the company said in a statement. It said X was threatened with daily fines if it failed to comply.

Musk said the blocking order was unconstitutional.

“The people of Brazil, regardless of their political beliefs, are entitled to freedom of speech, due process, and transparency from their own authorities,” he posted.

A spokesperson for the Supreme Court said the court had no comment on the matter for now.

Moraes, who is leading an investigation into an alleged coup attempt by former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, is one of the Supreme Court justices most active in combating online misinformation in Brazil.

Last year, Moraes also ordered an investigation into executives at social messaging platform Telegram and Alphabet’s GOOGL.O Google, who were in charge of a campaign criticizing a proposed internet regulation bill.

The bill put the onus on internet companies, search engines and social messaging services to find and report illegal material, instead of leaving it to the courts, and to charge hefty fines for failures to do so.