Elon Musk Says Congress Has Inquired About X’s Actions in Brazil

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The owner of X challenged a court order in Brazil requiring the removal of certain accounts on the social media platform.

Social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, has received an inquiry from the U.S. House of Representatives regarding alleged illegal actions it took in Brazil, Elon Musk said on Wednesday.

In a post on the social network, the owner of X said the platform had “just received an inquiry from the House of Representatives regarding actions taken in Brazil that were in violation of Brazilian law.”

“There were hundreds if not thousands. This is getting spicy,” Mr. Musk added.

Mr. Musk did not provide further details regarding the alleged inquiry, including which House lawmaker or lawmakers had sent the request or exactly what details are being sought.

The U.S. House could not be immediately reached for comment and X did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

In a later post on Wednesday, Mr. Musk, a self-declared free speech absolutist, further claimed X was being asked to “suspend sitting members of the Brazilian parliament and many journalists” from the platform.

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The businessman’s online comments came shortly after Brazilian Supreme Court justice and president of the Superior Electoral Court, Alexandre de Moraes, opened an inquiry into Mr. Musk.

The inquiry—backed by the current leftist government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva—came after the Tesla CEO challenged a court order requiring the removal of certain accounts on X as part of alleged efforts to crack down on fake news and misinformation in Brazil.

‘Twitter Files Brazil’

It is not clear which accounts are subject to the block issued by Brazil’s highest court and neither Mr. Musk nor Brazilian authorities have disclosed further details, including when the order was first issued.

However, according to a report published by investigative journalist Michael Shellenberger and colleagues David Ágape and Eli Vieira, titled “Twitter Files Brazil,” those targeted by the order included sitting members of Brazil’s congress and journalists.

That report—which included more than two years of communications between Twitter’s legal team and Brazilian courts—further claimed that Brazil is “engaged in a sweeping crackdown on free speech led by a Supreme Court justice” and that Justice de Moraes had demanded access to Twitter’s internal data in 2020 before the platform was acquired by Mr. Musk and renamed.

Justice de Moraes had also demanded to see private information regarding Twitter users who used hashtags he considered inappropriate, the report stated.

The Supreme Court justice also allegedly ordered Twitter to de-platform individuals responsible for specific posts that he wanted to be censored “without giving users any right of appeal or even the right to see the evidence presented against them” according to Mr. Shellenberger and his colleagues.

According to the internal files shared in the report, Twitter in Brazil was threatened with a $30,000 fine if it did not comply with the orders within one hour.

Despite the order from Brazil, Mr. Musk defiantly said on X last week that his company would lift all restrictions on Brazilian accounts that had been targeted by the Supreme Court’s order because they were unconstitutional.
Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (L) and Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes (R) attend a meeting at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on April 18, 2023. (Eraldo Peres/AP Photo)
Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (L) and Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes (R) attend a meeting at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on April 18, 2023. (Eraldo Peres/AP Photo)

‘Principles Matter More Than Profit’

Mr. Musk further claimed the judge in the case had applied “massive fines and threatened to arrest our employees and cut off access to X in Brazil” and that as a result, X would likely lose all revenue in Brazil and have to close its office there.

“But principles matter more than profit,” Mr. Musk wrote, explaining X’s decision.

Space X boss Mr. Musk also suggested that Justice de Moraes “should resign or be impeached” from his role, and accused him of having “brazenly and repeatedly betrayed the constitution and people of Brazil.”

Following Mr. Musk’s challenge to the court order, the justice said Mr. Musk would be investigated for alleged obstruction of justice, criminal organization, and incitement, writing: “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.”

X risks being fined 100,000 reais (around $19,740) per day if it fails to comply with the court order.

Despite the alleged inquiry from the U.S. House of Representatives, Mr. Musk appeared unfazed on Wednesday, instead doubling down on his criticism of Justice de Moraes, this time calling him a “dictator.”
The tech mogul also stressed that while X respects the laws of Brazil and all countries in which it operates, “when given an order to break the law, we must refuse.”

It comes as Justice de Moraes has long been criticized by the right for allegedly overstepping his bounds as part of censorship efforts, with the Supreme Court justice long accused of engaging in political persecution.

Last year, he announced former President Jair Bolsonaro is being investigated for his alleged role in the storming of government buildings in Brasília.

Mr. Bolsonaro has denied any wrongdoing.

Aldgra Fredly, Melanie Sun, and Reuters contributed to this report.



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