Brazil court investigates Elon Musk over disinformation on X


In the midst of an intensifying legal dispute over free speech and disinformation between the social media giant and the Brazilian judiciary, Elon Musk declared on Sunday, April 7, that X would disobey a ruling by Justice Alexandre de Moraes of the Supreme Court of Brazil to ban some accounts.

Moraes reacted to Musk’s statement by declaring an investigation into the possibility of obstruction of justice.

As the head of Brazil’s highest electoral court, Moraes has led an effort to combat hate speech, fake news, and incitement in Brazil. He notes that misinformation poses a unique threat to the country’s democracy.

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Justice Alexandre de Moraes noted in his ruling that Musk had started a public “disinformation campaign” on Saturday about the actions of the top court, and that Musk had carried it out the following day, most notably by saying that his social media company X would no longer abide by the court’s orders to block specific accounts.

“The flagrant conduct of obstruction of Brazilian justice, incitement of crime, the public threat of disobedience of court orders and future lack of cooperation from the platform are facts that disrespect the sovereignty of Brazil”. De Moraes wrote.

X’s global government affairs team stated that the business had been “forced” by the court to restrict certain accounts in Brazil, prior to Musk pledging to disregard the judge’s decision.

“We are threatened with daily fines if we fail to comply, it wasn’t immediately known which accounts were affected and why, though previous takedown orders have targeted accounts allegedly carrying fake news and hate speech.” The statement noted.

In response to a user concerning compliance, Musk later declared that the company would restore the affected accounts even if it meant losing customers.

“We are lifting all restrictions. 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.” Musk wrote on the platform.

Musk further pledged to make public the specifics of how the order transgresses Brazilian law while noting that the judge has consistently and blatantly betrayed the Brazilian people and their constitution.

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Since taking over the platform in October 2022, Musk has substantially undermined X’s content-moderation system by either sacking or accepting the resignations of three-fourths of the staff.

With around 20 million users, Brazil is X’s fourth-largest market.

Fact-checker at The FactheckHub | [email protected] | + posts

Seasoned fact-checker and researcher Fatimah Quadri has written numerous fact-checks, explainers, and media literacy pieces for The FactCheckHub in an effort to combat information disorder. She can be reached at sunmibola_q on X or [email protected].


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