Elon Musk Faces Brazil Inquiry After Vowing to Defy Judge’s Order

Sebastian Gollnow/Getty
Sebastian Gollnow/Getty

A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has launched an inquiry into Elon Musk after the billionaire said X would reinstate accounts that the justice had ordered blocked.

Musk over the weekend denounced the order to block accounts from Justice Alexandre de Moraes. The self-described free speech absolutist said his company would end the restrictions on the accounts, accusing Moraes of betraying the Brazilian constitution and calling for the justice to “resign or be impeached.”

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It’s not clear which accounts have been ordered to be blocked or when the order was made. X’s Global Government Affairs account posted about the order on Saturday, saying it had been “forced by court decisions to block certain popular accounts in Brazil” and that it would “challenge the orders legally where possible.”

Musk later said: “We are lifting all restrictions.” He added that Moraes had “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. “But principles matter more than profit.”

Moraes—who is already investigating so-called “digital militias” alleged to have shared disinformation and fake news during former President Jair Bolsonaro’s time in office—has now made Musk a target of the investigation over what he called obstruction of justice.

“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,” Moraes wrote on Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

In a statement released to the media, Moraes said X could be fined about $20,000 a day if it fails to comply with the order to block accounts.

Musk has vowed to “publish everything demanded by [Moraes] and those requests violate Brazilian law.” He also encouraged Brazilian social media users to download a VPN in case Brazil blocks access to the site. “These are the most draconian demands of any country on Earth!” Musk wrote of the order.

On Saturday night, Brazil’s attorney general said it was vital for Brazil to be able to regulate social media sites. “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,” Jorge Messias wrote. “Social peace is non-negotiable.”

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