Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is deeply upset by a Supreme Court judge’s decision to ban the popular messaging service Telegram in Brazil. According to him, the ruling is “unacceptable” and threatens the “freedom” of Brazilians. It could “cost lives,” according to Bolsonaro.
Judge Alexandre de Moraes decided to ban Telegram because the company had repeatedly refused to suspend the accounts of some individuals involved in distributing fake news and to remove posts it believed contained misinformation.
“The judge did not take any action on two or three people who thought they should be banned, so he decided to hit 70 million people. What is at stake is our freedom,” Bolsonaro said at a meeting with leaders of the Evangelical Church in Rio Branco, in the northern state of Acre. De Moraes may “cost lives due to the lack of communication options between patients and their doctors”.
Telegram is one of the main communication channels the far-right president uses in his election campaign. Despite lagging far behind in the polls of his main rival, former President Lula da Silva, Bolsonaro hopes to be re-elected president in October.
Stop being a villain, Alexandre de Moraes. resigned. I will not respect this judge’s decision anymore.
Other tech companies like Meta – owner of WhatsApp – and Alphabet – owner of Google and Twitter – have banned hate-promoting accounts on behalf of the law in recent years. As a result, Telegram, founder and CEO of Russia Pavel Durov, has become the preferred channel for conspiracy theories, false information, and insults from Bolsonaro supporters.
Long disagreement with the judge
De Moraes’ decision is another clash in the long-running feud between the judge and Bolsonaro. De Moraes is leading several investigations into Bolsonaro, his sons, and some of his supporters for spreading false news or classified information.
The judge’s intervention angered Bolsonaro for some time. Last year, on September 7, Brazil’s Independence Day, this led to an unprecedented stern attack by the President on de Moraes. “Stop being a villain, Alexandre de Moraes. Resign. I will not respect this judge’s decision anymore,” Bolsonaro said at the time, among other things.
After major political turmoil and a demand to stop following court decisions could lead to impeachment proceedings, Bolsonaro capitulated. He somewhat retracted his words in a ten-point statement he co-wrote with former President Michel Temer: “I spoke in the midst of this moment.”
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