Brazil Judge Opens Probe Into Elon Musk

A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has opened an investigation into entrepreneur Elon Musk after the billionaire said he would reactivate accounts on X, formerly Twitter, that the judge had ordered blocked.

Musk, who bought X in late 2022, said he would lift the restrictions on certain accounts because they were unconstitutional.

Neither X nor Brazil have disclosed the nature of the accounts, but they are thought to be linked to extreme-right movements which posted content related to riots on 8 January of last year when thousands of supporters of former Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro stormed the country’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace in scenes reminiscent of the 6 January, 2020 riots in the US capitol.

Musk also called for Justice Alexandre de Moraes to “resign or be impeached”.

‘Digital militias’

Moraes said if X fails to comply with the restrictions it will be fined 100,000 reais ($19,774, £15,670) per day.

The judge is investigating “digital militias” accused of spreading disinformation during the Bolsonaro presidency as well as the 8 January riots and an alleged coup attempt by Bolsonaro.

Writing on X, Musk accused the judge of “brazenly and repeatedly” betraying Brazil’s constitution and people and said he would legally challenge the order blocking X accounts where possible.

In response Moraes added Musk to the social media investigation and opened a probe into what he called obstruction of justice.

‘Myth of our liberty’

“X shall refrain from disobeying any court order already issued, including performing any profile reactivation that has been blocked by this Supreme Court,” he said in his decision.

The government of current president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed support for Moraes, while Bolsonaro posted a video of himself meeting with Musk in May 2022, writing, “@elonmusk is the myth of our liberty”.

Under Musk X has come under fire by regulators for alleged failures to stem misinformation and hate speech, while suing non-profts that have posted reports critical of the firm’s policies.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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