Brazil Supreme Court Justice Orders Investigation Of Elon Musk Over Fake News And Obstruction

Rio de Janeiro (AP)— A crusading Brazilian Supreme Court justice named Elon Musk a target in an ongoing inquiry into false news and began a separate investigation into him late Sunday for obstruction.

Justice Alexandre de Moraes noted that Musk began a public “disinformation campaign” about the top court's actions on Saturday and continued the following day, including comments that his social media company X would stop blocking accounts.

The flagrant obstruction of Brazilian justice, incitement of crime, public threat of disobedience of court orders and future lack of cooperation from the platform disrespect the sovereignty of Brazil,” de Moraes said.

The verdict states that Musk will be probed for willful illegal instrumentalization of X as part of a case against digital militias that distribute defamatory fake news and threats against Supreme Court justices.

The Brazilian right has long accused de Moraes of repressing free speech and persecuting political opponents. In the digital militias probe, former President Jair Bolsonaro's allies were imprisoned and his followers' residences seized.

De Moraes' defenders say his extraordinary decisions are legally sound and necessary to purge social media of fake news and extinguish threats to Brazilian democracy, as shown by the Jan. 8, 2023, uprising in Brazil's capital that resembled the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection.

Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist, wrote on X on Saturday that the platform would abolish all limitations on blocked accounts, predicting that Brazil's revenue would dry up and force the firm to close its local operation.

He then advised Brazilian customers to use a VPN to keep access if X was shut down and said X will expose de Moraes' requests, saying they violate Brazilian law. He later commented, “These are the most draconian demands of any country on Earth!”

Musk had not disclosed de Moraes' demands by late Sunday, and notable blocked accounts remained, indicating X had not acted on Musk's previous promises.

Moraes warned against doing so, stating each blocked account X reactivates will incur a 100,000 reais ($20,000) daily punishment and that anyone responsible will be held criminally accountable for not following a court ruling.

Brazil's attorney general wrote Saturday night that social media regulation was needed. We cannot live in a society where foreign billionaires control social media and violate the law by threatening our officials and not complying with court decisions.