Home Technology Elon Musk investigated by Brazilian supreme court judge over fake news claims

Elon Musk investigated by Brazilian supreme court judge over fake news claims

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X said Brazil’s supreme court „forced” the company „to block certain popular accounts” accused of spreading false information in the country.
By Dylan Donnelly, news reporter
Monday 8 April 2024 22:56, UK
X owner Elon Musk is being investigated by Brazil’s highest court for allegedly waging a public „disinformation campaign” on the social media platform.
The tycoon is under investigation for a possible obstruction of justice after he said he would defy court orders to restrict accounts accused of spreading false information on X, formerly Twitter, which he took over in 2022.
Mr Musk has separately been included by a Brazilian supreme court judge in an ongoing investigation over the dissemination of fake news.
On Saturday, X’s global government affairs team posted that the company was „forced… to block certain popular accounts,” and said they believe the court’s orders do not comply with Brazil’s internet laws or constitution.
Throughout the weekend, Mr Musk called for Justice Alexandre de Moraes to resign or be impeached, saying: „This judge has brazenly and repeatedly betrayed the constitution and people of Brazil.”
He also called the court order „the most draconian demands of any country on earth,” vowed to publish „everything demanded by Justice de Moraes,” and told users to download a virtual private network to be able to access X.
After a weekend of defiant posts, Mr de Moraes accused Mr Musk of fuelling a „disinformation campaign” and instigating „disobedience and obstruction of justice”.
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The judge wrote in a court filing on Sunday: „Social media is not a lawless land! Social media is no man’s land!
„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.”
Mr Musk and X will be fined 100,000 reais (£15,700) a day per account that the company reinstates against Brazil’s Supreme Court orders, according to the filing.
Paulo Pimenta, Brazil’s communications minister, said on X: „Brazil is not the jungle of impunity and our sovereignty will not be subordinate to the power of internet platforms or the business model of big tech.”
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Mr Musk, who is also chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, has not directly responded to the court filing but has continued to post about Mr de Moraes, challenging him to a debate and saying: „X supports the people of Brazil, without regard to political affiliation.”
Mr de Moraes also ordered Mr Musk to be included in a broader inquiry into „digital militias”, who allegedly spread defamatory fake news. The inquiry stems from ex-president Jair Bolsonaro’s alleged attempts to stay in power after his 2022 election defeat to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
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In January 2023, thousands of the far-right nationalist’s supporters stormed Brazil’s presidential palace, Congress, Supreme Court and ministries’ building in protest of the election.
Mr de Moraes said Mr Bolsonaro will be investigated for his role in the riots at the time, and added that „public figures who continue to cowardly conspire against democracy trying to establish a state of exception will be held accountable”.
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Mr Musk met Mr Bolsonaro in Brazil to discuss the use of SpaceX’s satellite internet service Starlink in rural schools in the Amazon in May 2022.
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The former president – who presented the Tesla boss with a medal during his visit two years ago – supported Mr Musk on Sunday and said that „our freedom today is largely in his hands”.
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