Elon Musk Under Criminal Investigation In Brazil
Elon Musk, owner of Tesla and the X (formerly Twitter) platform, attends a symposium on fighting antisemitism titled 'Never Again : Lip Service or Deep Conversation' in Krakow, Poland on January 22nd, 2024. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto)
Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A Brazilian judge has ordered a criminal investigation into Elon Musk in relation to court-described disinformation being spread on X.

Justice Alexandre de Moraes named Musk in an ongoing probe into the spread of fake news and disinformation. The judge ordered a new investigation opened into Musk specifically for obstruction of justice, according to the Associated Press.

“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,” de Moraes wrote in his order.

De Moraes took action against Musk after the entrepreneur protested against orders from the judge’s court on Saturday. Musk accused de Moraes of betraying Brazil and making illegal requests of X to take down posts and block accounts.

“Coming shortly, X will publish everything demanded by @Alexandre and how those requests violate Brazilian law. This judge has brazenly and repeatedly betrayed the constitution and people of Brazil. He should resign or be impeached,” Musk said in a post on X. “Shame @Alexandre, shame.”

“These are the most draconian demands of any country on Earth!” Musk added later.

De Moraes’ investigations and Musk’s refusal to comply with the court’s requests risk hefty fines against Musk and his social media platform. Musk warned that he may have to close X operations in Brazil. He urged X users to download a VPN to continue using X if the platform is outlawed in Brazil.

“Using a VPN is very easy,” Musk said, promoting a video showing how to download a VPN on a smartphone.

Right-wing critics in Brazil have accused de Moraes of abusing his position to crack down on political opponents under the guise of policing fake news and disinformation, according to the AP. Allies and supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have been ensnared in an investigation into so-called digital militias being investigated for spreading disinformation and threats against judges.


Musk’s resistance has also sparked backlash from other corners of Brazil’s government. On Sunday, Brazil Attorney General Jorge Messias in a post on X called for increased regulation of social media companies in the country.

“It is urgent to regulate social networks. 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,” Messias said, according to a translation on CNN.

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