US Committee Reveals Secret Brazil Court Orders to Elon Musk's X Regarding Account Suspensions

By Madz Dizon

Apr 19, 2024 09:28 AM EDT

US Committee Reveals Secret Brazil Court Orders to Elon Musk's X Regarding Account Suspensions
A photo illustration of the new Twitter logo on July 24, 2023 in London, England. Elon Musk has revealed today a new logo for Twitter, which constitutes the letter 'X' as part of a rebrand of the company.
(Photo : Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A US congressional committee disclosed classified Brazilian court orders to suspend X accounts, revealing choices that have prompted Elon Musk to claim censorship. 

The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee released a staff report late Wednesday that detailed dozens of orders by Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes ordering X to suspend or erase approximately 150 user profiles from its site in recent years.

Brazilian Court's Order to Suspend X Accounts

The 541-page report is the result of committee subpoenas served on X. De Moraes' orders barred X from making them public.

"To comply with its obligations under US law, X Corp. has responded to the Committee," the business said in a statement on April 15. Musk's admission comes amid a fight with de Moraes.

According to CNBC TV18, de Moraes has headed a five-year investigation into so-called "digital militias," which reportedly distributed libelous fake news and made threats to Supreme Court justices.

The inquiry was widened to include people encouraging demonstrations across the country in an attempt to reverse Bolsonaro's 2022 election loss.

These protests culminated in a January 8 insurrection in Brazil's capital, with Bolsonaro supporters seizing government facilities, including the Supreme Court, in an attempt to remove President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from office.

De Moraes' detractors argue that he has abused his authority and should not be permitted to arbitrarily delete social media accounts, including those of democratically elected lawmakers.

However, most legal experts believe his brazen actions are legally legitimate and, more importantly, justified by the unique circumstances of democracy being threatened. They point out that his choices have either been upheld or not contested by his fellow justices.

The secret instructions revealed by the congressional committee were issued by both Brazil's Supreme Court and its highest electoral court, over which de Moraes presently rule.

When The Associated Press contacted the Supreme Court's press office, it declined to comment on the potential consequences of their release.

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Suspended X Accounts Can be Retrieved

The Supreme Court's press office stated in a statement Thursday afternoon that the orders do not provide explanations, but that the company and persons with suspended accounts can gain access by requesting the court's decisions.

While Musk has often criticized de Moraes' directives as violating "free speech" principles and amounting to "aggressive censorship," the firm he owns has complied with government inquiries from around the world.

Last year, for example, X censored posts critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and in February, it blocked accounts and posts in India at the request of the government.

Brazil is a significant market for X and other social media sites. According to market research firm eMarketer, over 40 million Brazilians, or roughly 18% of the population, use X at least once a month.

According to AP News, X has followed suspension orders despite the fear of severe fines. De Moraes often required compliance within two hours and imposed a daily punishment of 100,000 reais ($20,000) for failure.

It is unclear whether the 150 suspended accounts are all of those de Moraes ordered suspended. Until the committee report, it was unclear whether the number was a handful, a few hundred, or more. Some of the suspended accounts in the report have been revived.

READ MORE: Brazilian Woman Wheels Her Dead Uncle Into the Bank to Withdraw Loan in His Name 

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