Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Elon Musk is using Twitter to defend Brazil’s fascists


Elon Musk Jair Bolsonaro billionaire foreign interference fascism Twitter court order posturing grandstanding

The fight shows countries will no longer put up with the drawbacks of unregulated social media

On April 7, Elon Musk struck out at a Brazilian Supreme Court justice, branding him “Brazil’s Darth Vader.” For the past several years, Brazilian authorities have been cracking down on the digital platforms where far-right activists organize — an effort that gained steam after an attempted coup in the capital of Brasilia by supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro on January 8, 2023. Justice Alexandre de Moraes has been leading the charge, and he recently turned his attention to Twitter/X.

The court issued an order to Twitter/X demanding it remove certain accounts related to its investigation, and the platform initially complied without making a big deal of it. That shouldn’t come as a surprise: the company regularly acts on government requests; the percentage it complies with has actually significantly increased since Musk took over, despite his frequent grandstanding about censorship and free speech. But Musk already had ties with the Brazilian far right, and they likely used that connection to get him to declare war on the court and de Moraes specifically. He’d already been meddling in Brazilian politics with the recent release of a Brazilian version of the Twitter Files.

On April 6, Twitter/X’s Global Affairs account posted a longtweet to go public about having to suspend particular accounts and making it very clear that the company’s representatives did not agree with the actions they had to take. “We believe that such orders are not in accordance with the Marco Civil da Internet or the Brazilian Federal Constitution,” the longtweet read. “The people of Brazil, regardless of their political beliefs, are entitled to freedom of speech, due process, and transparency from their own authorities.”

Not long after, Musk posted that all content restrictions in the country would be lifted. The following day he continued, urging Brazilians to download a VPN, saying the demands of the court would be published in full, and calling for de Moraes to be impeached — echoing a longstanding campaign by the Brazilian far right and Bolsonaro himself. Needless to say, Brazilian authorities were not happy to see a foreign billionaire so vigorously refusing to comply with domestic court orders.  (more...)

Elon Musk is using Twitter to defend Brazil’s fascists

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