Home Economy Brazilian judge orders probe of Elon Musk amid X disinformation row | Social Media

Brazilian judge orders probe of Elon Musk amid X disinformation row | Social Media

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Brazilian judge orders probe of Elon Musk amid X disinformation row | Social Media

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Judge orders obstruction of justice inquiry after Musk says he will defy court order, calls for judge’s impeachment.

A Brazilian judge has opened an investigation of Elon Musk for obstruction of justice after the tech mogul said he would defy a court order to remove X accounts accused of spreading disinformation.

In a decision on Sunday, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes said the probe will examine whether Musk, who owns X, engaged in obstruction, criminal organisation and incitement.

“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, ordering X to “refrain from disobeying judicial orders, including by reactivating an account that the Supreme Court ordered blocked”.

De Moraes said that X would face fines of 100,000 reais ($19,770) per day for each account reinstated in defiance of the court order.

“Social networks are not lands without laws,” de Moraes wrote.

De Moraes’s order came after Musk attacked the judge on X following an announcement by the platform that it had been ordered to block certain accounts.

It is not clear what accounts were blocked or when the court order was issued.

“This judge has brazenly and repeatedly betrayed the constitution and people of Brazil,” Musk, who also runs Tesla and SpaceX, said on X.

“He should resign or be impeached.”

Musk said X would probably “lose all revenue” and have to shut in Brazil, but that “principles matter more than profit”.

Musk also said he would “publish everything demanded by” de Moraes and show how “those requests violate Brazilian law”.

Brazil’s Solicitor General Jorge Messias, a member of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s leftist government, expressed support for De Moraes, saying in a post on X that “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.”

De Moraes, one of 11 judges on Brazil’s high court, is known as a polarising figure in Latin America’s largest country.

The judge has spearheaded efforts to combat disinformation and hate speech online, causing him to be viewed as a saviour of democracy by many on the left and a menace to it by many on the right.

Since last year, he has overseen an investigation into former President Jair Bolsonaro over allegations he had been planning a military coup before his defeat in the 2022 presidential elections.

Brazil’s Superior Electoral Tribunal, which is led by De Moraes, banned Bolsonaro from running for office last year for allegedly spreading false information about the electoral system.

Musk met Bolsonaro in 2022 during a visit to Brazil to announce a plan to install his Starlink satellites over the Amazon rainforest to provide internet to schools and health facilities in remote areas.

During their meeting, Bolsonaro praised Musk as a “legend of liberty” and described his presence as “something spiritual”.



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