Elon Musk Says X Will Defy Order From Brazil’s Supreme Court After Twitter Files
Elon Musk Says X Will Defy Order From Brazil’s Supreme Court After Twitter Files

By Melanie Sun

Owner of X Corp. Elon Musk said on the platform on April 6 that the company had decided to lift all restrictions on Brazilian accounts targeted by an order from the nation’s Supreme Court.

“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. But principles matter more than profit,” Mr. Musk wrote, explaining X’s decision.

The announcement came in response to reporting by investigative journalist Michael Shellenberger and colleagues David Ágape and Eli Vieira, titled “Twitter Files Brazil.”

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In his reporting, Mr. Shellenberger cited records released by X, formerly known as Twitter, during Mr. Musk’s 2022 takeover that allegedly show that “Brazil is engaged in a sweeping crackdown on free speech led by a Supreme Court justice.”

Sitting members of Brazil’s Congress and journalists were among those named by Brazil’s highest court for censoring, Mr. Shellenberger said of his findings, which he has shared on X.

He named lower house members Carla Zambelli of former President Jair Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party and Marcel van Hattem of the NOVO party as targets of orders targeting posts that the court deemed misinformation.

According to the internal files that Mr. Shellenberger shared, Twitter in Brazil was threatened with a $30,000 fine. The company had one hour to remove the congressmembers’ posts or pay the court for noncompliance.

The article reports that the justice had even been jailing individuals without trial for their social media posts.

According to Mr. Shellenberger, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes allegedly made demands to Twitter to allow access to its internal data, in violation of Twitter’s own policies on the handling of user data. He also allegedly ordered that Twitter deplatform the individuals responsible for the specific posts that he wanted censored “without giving users any right of appeal or even the right to see the evidence presented against them.”

Brazil’s “Twitter Files” also show that the justice “sought to weaponize Twitter’s content moderation policies against supporters of then-president [Jair Bolsonaro],” Mr. Shellenberger said—a similar trend to what the “Twitter files” revealed was happening to former President Donald Trump and conservative voices in the United States.

The origin of the order to censor Brazilians’ posts was also revealed in the internal Twitter files, he said.

He said Justice de Moraes, Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court, and Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court declined to respond to the report.

Last year, Justice de Moraes also ordered an investigation into executives at social messaging platform Telegram and Alphabet’s 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 charged hefty fines for failures to do so.

‘Aggressive Censorship’

Mr. Musk said of Brazil’s Twitter Files, which he released to Mr. Shellenberger, “This aggressive censorship appears to violate the law & will of the people of Brazil.”

Journalist Paulo Figueiredo, a contributor to The Epoch Times who was censored by the court order, replied: “You’re going to save my country. We could never repay you.”

He had replied to an earlier post urging X to not comply with the court order, saying the independent platforms Rumble and Locals did not comply.

“You’re powerful enough to make a difference,” Mr. Figueiredo said.

Mr. Musk describes himself as a free-speech absolutist. He said at the time when he bought Twitter that it was to create a platform on which “a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner.”

Shortly after telling Brazil’s Supreme Court that his company would not comply with its order, he posted to X an image “for the people of Earth” of an X consisting of more than 100 repetitions of the words “FREE SPEECH.”

Reuters contributed to this report.


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