A Brazilian Supreme Court judge opens an investigation into Elon Musk – Top Stories (Trending Perfect)


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speak during a meeting in Porto Velez, Sao Paulo state, Brazil on May 20, 2022.

Kenny Oliveira | om com | Via Reuters

Brazil's Supreme Court judge, Alexandre de Moraes, began an investigation into technology mogul Elon Musk, the billionaire owner and chief technology officer of the social media network X (formerly Twitter), on Sunday. The investigation relates to possible obstruction of justice by Musk, who said over the weekend that he would defy court orders to restrict or suspend some popular accounts on his platform.

Moraes also ordered Musk to be included in a broader investigation into so-called “digital militias,” a term applied to people accused of spreading disinformation online to attack Brazil's democratic institutions.

These orders follow outright defiant threats sent by Musk to his X account, where he now has 180.2 million listed followers.

“We are lifting all restrictions,” Musk wrote defiantly on Saturday in response to the previous court orders. “This judge has imposed huge fines, threatened to arrest our employees and cut off access to Brazil. As a result, we will likely lose all revenue” in Brazil and have had to close our office. there. But principles are more important than profit.”

By Sunday, Musk was further provoking the Brazilian Supreme Court, calling for the resignation or removal of the judge who issued the orders, Moraes. Musk also made unsupported claims that the judge violated the law in Brazil.

On Sunday, the tech billionaire also threatened to release information from inside X that would paint Moraes as a traitor to his country.

He wrote: “Soon we will publish everything he requests [Alexandre de Moraes] How these requests violate Brazilian law. This judge has brazenly and repeatedly betrayed Brazil's constitution and its people. He must resign or be removed. Shame [Alexandre de Moraes]Shame.”

Moraes has long supported regulations aimed at curbing harmful content Misinformation online in Brazil. He has faced opposition from a range of entities including technology companies, the country's far-right officials and former President Bolsonaro.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures as he arrives at a hotel to participate in a press conference on the Amazon rainforest and meet with Elon Musk, according to the ministers, in Porto Velez, Sao Paulo state, Brazil on May 20, 2022.

Amanda Berobelli | Reuters

Its population is more than 215 million in 2023Brazil is the second most populous country in the Western Hemisphere after the United States. Musk's vocal opposition to Morais comes during the country's municipal election year, with voters scheduled to go to the polls in October.

Like Americans, Brazilian voters are deeply divided on politics. The country has also witnessed destabilizing political violence similar to what happened on January 6, 2021 during the last transfer of power.

On January 8, 2023Supporters of far-right former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have denounced a “stolen” election, invaded and vandalized government buildings, and called for military intervention to remove President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from office.

Bolsonaro is currently under investigationHe is suspected of plotting a coup, fabricating records and other crimes in his homeland.

Musk — who is CTO and owner of Amazon.

SpaceX first received permission to operate a satellite internet service, called Starlink, in Brazil during Bolsonaro's presidency, and the service is now widely used across the country.

During their May 2022 meeting, Bolsonaro spoke of the Tesla CEO's plans to acquire Twitter as a “breath of hope.”

X and other social networks are facing increasing regulatory pressure around the world, including in Australia, Brazil, the European Union, India and Turkey.

For each account that X returns against the orders of Brazil's Supreme Court, the court will fine Musk and his company 100,000 Brazilian reais (about $20,000) each per day, according to the filings. Those involved in Brazil will also be held accountable for defying court orders.

“Social networks are not lawless territory!” Moraes wrote in his decision. He said Musk's statements show that X protects those who promote criminal activities against Brazil's democracy.

“X’s conduct constitutes not only, in theory, an abuse of economic power, by attempting to unlawfully influence public opinion, but also constitutes blatant incitement to maintain the various criminal conduct engaged in,” the judge wrote. Digital militias investigated. to Correo Brazilianense.

Mixed record on freedom of expression

Musk-led X was fined for Failure to comply with electronic safety regulations in Australia. X is also the subject of an EU investigation under the relatively new Digital Services Act, a set of laws aimed at holding tech companies accountable for incitement to terrorism, hate speech, child exploitation and other harmful content on their platforms.

Free expression advocates fear that such regulations – created in the name of online harm reduction, or protecting users' data and privacy – could be easily exploited by government officials, and used to target or silence perceived enemies, such as activists, academics and politicians. Dissenters.

While Musk has described himself as a champion of absolute freedom of expression, his track record is largely inconsistent.

When he took over Twitter, Musk scaled back content moderation, trust and safety among employees, relaxed company policies, and reinstated accounts that had been banned under previous management.

For example, Musk reinstated former President Donald Trump's account after the previous administration imposed a lifetime ban on him in January 2021. (The ban came on the heels of the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol in which Trump supporters rioted and disrupted lawmakers who were They officially count the Electoral College votes.)

Meanwhile, Musk's Tesla has required employees and customers to sign strict non-disclosure and mandatory arbitration agreements for years that limit freedom of expression by design. At SpaceX, employees said they were fired in retaliation for writing an open letter critical of Musk in 2022.

In February, X removed accounts and posts at the request of the Indian government that were linked to the ongoing farmer protests there.

X did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Sunday.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.



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