Social network picks a fight with the Brazilian government

  • X is ignoring Brazil’s order to ban certain accounts from the platform.
  • The platform says it hasn’t been given reasons why the accounts should be banned.
  • Elon Musk has said that X will release the details it was provided by Brazil, in violation of the order and risking the platform’s future in the country.

Owner and chief twit of X, Elon Musk is currently engaged in a brawl with a government, the Brazilian government to be exact.

At the weekend the billionaire and his X platform took umbrage to a court order which compelled the platform to ban certain individuals from accessing it.

“X Corp. has been forced by court decisions to block certain popular accounts in Brazil. We have informed those accounts that we have taken this action,” the platform’s Global Government Affairs account posted on Saturday.

The account states that X doesn’t know the reason these blocking orders were issued, which posts violate Brazil’s law and added that it can’t provide more information about these blocks.

“We believe that such orders are not in accordance with the Marco Civil da Internet or the Brazilian Federal Constitution, and we challenge the orders legally where possible. The people of Brazil, regardless of their political beliefs, are entitled to freedom of speech, due process, and transparency from their own authorities,” X stated.

That’s a strong position to take if X indeed doesn’t know why the accounts it was ordered to take action against are a target. It’s also rather foolish as the accounts could be operated by genuinely bad people.

Not that this matters to Musk who was seemingly affronted by the fact that a government would ask him to take action against users. We know this because Musk has threatened to publish the information X’s Global Government Affairs department says it can’t publish.

As the Financial Times points out, this threat has seen Brazil’s attorney-general calling for social media in the region to be regulated.

“It is urgent to regulate social networks,” Jorge Messias was quoted as saying. “We cannot live in a society in which billionaires domiciled abroad have control of social networks and put themselves in a position to violate the rule of law, failing to comply with court orders and threatening our authorities.”

It’s tough not to agree with Messias’ point of view. Far too often have social networks operated with impunity in regions outside the US. Meta is guilty of it in countless examples including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the massacre in Myanmar, and the numerous countries where influence campaigns by bad actors have impacted elections.

As social media platforms largely operate from the US, US law dictates their operations but this doesn’t fly in other countries. Back in 2021, Twitter was banned in Nigeria after the platform deleted a tweet from the nation’s president. The ban was lifted seven months later after Twitter agreed to comply with Nigerian law.

Of course, it may be the case that Brazil is silencing critics and opposition voices but as to lean on Messias’ point above, that’s not a battle for Musk or any other US-based social media operator to fight.

As a result of this “battle” Brazil may ban access to X in the country if the platform continues to flout and ignore the orders issued to it. More than that, X will incur a fine for every day it fails to comply with the court order.

The owner of X is acutely aware of the consequences and has chosen to push forward.

“We are lifting all restrictions. This judge has applied massive fines, threatened to arrest our employees and cut off access to 𝕏 in Brazil. As a result, we will probably lose all revenue in Brazil and have to shut down our office there. But principles matter more than profit,” Musk told a user.

The billionaire has also started advising users in Brazil to make use of a VPN to access X.

We’re not sure how well that suggestion will fare in a country where approximately 31 percent of the population suffer from food insecurity.

[Image – Gleidiçon Rodrigues from Pixabay]


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