– Brazil’s Attorney-General Jorge Messias has called for “urgent regulation” of social media platforms following a clash with X owner Elon Musk.

  • Musk threatened to disobey court orders demanding the removal of certain profiles on X, and called for the resignation or impeachment of Supreme Court justice Alexandre De Moraes.
  • The profiles in question are likely linked to far-right movements, which have found a strong presence on X and other social media platforms.

    Brazil’s Attorney-General Jorge Messias has demanded “urgent regulation” of social media sites after Elon Musk, the owner of X (formerly Twitter), threatened to disobey a court order banning certain profiles on his platform and called for a Supreme Court justice to “resign or be impeached.”

    The clash began when X’s global government affairs team posted that it had been “forced by court decisions to block certain popular accounts in Brazil,” without knowing the reasons for the blocking orders. Musk suggested that the orders came from Alexandre De Moraes, a Supreme Court justice who has been a vocal advocate of cracking down on anti-democratic content online, particularly following the January 8, 2021 riots in Brasília.

    Musk vowed to “publish everything demanded by [De Moraes] and how those requests violate Brazilian law,” echoing talking points of Brazil’s far-right, which has long accused De Moraes and the Supreme Court of censorship. In response, lawmaker Orlando Silva announced plans to propose legislation setting out a “responsibilities regime for these digital platforms.”

    The profiles in question are likely linked to far-right movements, which have found fertile ground on X and other social media platforms. De Moraes is widely considered to have played a role in protecting Brazilian democracy during the 2022 presidential election, when then-president Jair Bolsonaro was spreading unsubstantiated claims about the integrity of the electoral system.

    The extent of the threat to Brazilian democracy in 2022 was highlighted by a police investigation in February, which alleged that Bolsonaro, in conjunction with several military officers, considered an armed intervention to prevent President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from taking office.

    As social media platforms face increasing pressure to comply with new laws in countries such as India and Turkey, critics argue that such rules can be abused by country leaders to silence dissidents and activists. Despite regularly espousing free speech ideals, Musk has previously come under fire for appeasing censorship demands from various governments.