A Brazilian court has announced that it will be opening an investigation into X owner Elon Musk for obstruction of justice, after Musk reactivated far-right accounts that the Brazilian government had flagged for removal. The announcement came after Musk called for Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who heads the country’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE), to “resign or be impeached,” and a statement from X alleged that the orders to remove the accounts violate the Brazilian constitution.

While the court has not released the list of accounts it requested for blocking or investigation, the São Paolo–based newspaper Estadão reported that it includes the fugitive far-right influencer Allan dos Santos, a supporter of president Jair Bolsonaro. (Dos Santos fled the country in 2020 to avoid investigation for disseminating disinformation.) The list also includes right-wing YouTuber Bruno Aiub, known as Monark, who has over 1 million followers on X and has argued that Brazil should recognize the Nazi party, and Brazilian billionaire and Bolsonaro-supporter Luciano Hang.

Separately, after taking over the company, Musk reactivated the accounts of Brazilian far-right politicians Carla Zambelli, Gustavo Gayer, and Nikolas Ferreira. Ferreira, a Bolsonaro supporter, openly questioned the security of Brazil’s electronic voting machines, even though he won his local legislative race.

“All of these names have been problematic for years on social media,” says Flora Rebello Arduini, campaign director at the nonprofit advocacy organization Ekō. “They’ve been pushing for the far-right and election misinformation for ages.”

When Musk purchased Twitter in 2022, later renaming it X, many activists in Brazil worried that he would abuse the platform to push his own agenda, Arduini says. “He has unprecedented broadcasting abilities. He is bullying a supreme court justice of a democratic country, and he is showing he will use all the resources he has available to push for whatever favors his personal opinions or his professional ambitions.”

Under Musk, X has become a haven for the far right and disinformation. After taking over, Musk offered amnesty to users who had been banned from the platform, including right-wing influencer and convicted human trafficker Andrew Tate. A 2023 study found that hate speech has increased on the platform under Musk’s leadership. The situation in Brazil is just the latest instance of Musk aligning himself with and platforming dangerous, far-right movements around the world, experts tell WIRED. “It’s not about Twitter or Brazil. It’s about a strategy from the global far right to overcome democracies and democratic institutions around the world,” says Nina Santos, a digital democracy researcher at the Brazilian National Institute of Science & Technology who researches the Brazilian far right. “An opinion from an American billionaire should not count more than a democratic institution.”

This also comes as Brazil has continued working to understand and investigate the lead-up to January 8, 2023, when election-denying insurrectionists who refused to accept right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro’s defeat stormed Brazil’s legislature. The TSE, the country’s election court, is a special judicial body that investigates electoral crimes and is part of the mechanism for overseeing the country’s electoral processes overall. The court has been investigating the dissemination of fake news and disinformation that cast doubt on the country’s elections in the months and years leading up to the storming of the legislature on January 8, 2023. Both Arduini and Santos believe that the accounts Musk is refusing to remove are likely connected to the court’s inquiry.


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