Brazil Claims ‘Non-Compliance,’ Demands More Censorship After X/Twitter Cave

Elon Musk's X logo for Twitter
Anadolu Agency/Getty

Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF) Minister Alexandre de Moraes of Brazil gave a five-day deadline to the X/Twitter social media platform to inform the court of alleged cases of non-compliance with the court’s censorship orders.

The order, issued on Saturday, demands that X/Twitter representatives inform the Brazilian top court why the platform allegedly allowed six censored Brazilian accounts belonging to local journalists and politicians to broadcast live content.

The STF order comes less than a week after X/Twitter lawyers reportedly informed the Brazilian top court that the company would comply with a lengthy list of censorship demands from de Moraes. The alleged letter of compliance from the attorneys marked a dramatic shift in the tone of relations between the Brazilian judiciary and X/Twitter after its owner, Elon Musk, openly expressed his intention to ignore the STF’s censorious rulings in early April. 

In a rant on the platform, Musk also personally accused de Moraes of acting as a “dictator” and urged Brazilians to remove him from the court.

SpaceX, X/Twitter, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Alain JOCARD/AFP)

The initial ruling reportedly stems from a report that the Brazilian Federal Police issued that argued the ability to broadcast live on the X/Twitter platform through its “Spaces” feature allowed the targets of STF’s censorship orders to circumvent the court’s mandates and allowed Brazilian X/Twitter users to interact with the blocked accounts.

The six accounts that the Brazilian Police’s report listed belong to the conservative news outlet Terça Livre, economist Rodrigo Constantino, journalists Paulo Figueiredo and Allan Dos Santos, writer Oswaldo Eustáquio, and Brazilian Senator Marcos do Val. All six accounts are censored in Brazil and cannot be accessed from within Brazilian territory.

CNN Brasil reported on Tuesday morning that all six accounts are part of an active inquiry that de Moraes opened in 2021 to investigate so-called “anti-democratic digital militias” that spread “fake news” and “threaten democracy” in Brazil. De Moraes, who has in recent years spearheaded a campaign against “fake news,” ordered Musk’s inclusion in the inquiry in April.

President of the Supreme Electoral Court Minister Alexandre de Moraes (Gustavo Moreno/AP)

According to the federal police report, the alleged “digital militias” “organized” themselves by providing access links to the accounts’ live broadcasts outside Brazilian territory. The police also alleged that dos Santos, Constantino, and Figuereido, who currently live in the United States, continue to “disseminate false information” in their X/Twitter live broadcasts.

The posts that the account owners currently living outside Brazil made, according to the police report, incite their followers to “attack the constituted powers,” which “demonstrate that the investigated never ceased their criminal conduct.”

Neither X/Twitter nor Musk have publicly commented on the ruling at press time.

Musk, who describes himself as a “free speech absolutist,” condemned de Moraes and the Brazilian court system shortly before Reuters reported that his attorneys expressed their wish to comply with the rulings in question. Musk called for de Moraes’s impeachment or resignation after accusing the judge of rigging Brazil’s highly controversial 2022 presidential election, in which socialist convicted felon Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was elected for a third term after narrowly defeating his predecessor, conservative former President Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

During that campaign, de Moraes was at the forefront of a censorship campaign against Bolsonaro, banning the conservative former president’s campaign from calling Lula a “thief” or “criminal” in reference to Lula’s multiple convictions on corruption charges. De Moraes also ordered multiple police raids against lawmakers, comedians, content creators, and regular citizens supportive of Bolsonaro in recent years.

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

De Moraes responded to Musk’s original statements implying he would defy the orders by opening an investigation into the billionaire to determine if he had engaged in alleged “obstruction of justice” and “incitement to crime.”

De Moraes is responsible for a prolonged censorship campaign against Brazilian politicians, journalists, and civilians, forcing X/Twitter and other social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube to restrict access to dozens of accounts within Brazilian territory. Failure to comply with the court’s censorship orders is met with threats of hefty daily fines of roughly $20,000 per account that said platform fails to censor. The Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives released a report on April 17, 2024, disclosing more than 300 censorship rulings that de Moraes issued against X/Twitter and other social media platforms.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on X/Twitter here.


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