Elon Musk’s Battle with Brazil

A progressive judge is ordering Musk to censor dissident voices on X.

What’s happening: Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes demanded Elon Musk’s X block specific accounts accused of spreading “disinformation” and tied to supporters of populist former President Jair Bolsonaro.

  • More: Musk ordered the accounts unblocked, though it could result in the arrest of X employees and the site’s shuttering in Brazil.

Why it matters: Just as Javier Milei’s success in Argentina may provide a path forward for other like-minded anti-establishment figures, de Moraes, if he is successful, may pave the way for crackdowns on populists and their participation in politics.

Rule by judicial fiat? De Moraes has taken a broad view of his powers, having ordered right-wingers to jail without trial for social media posts. After Bolsonaro narrowly lost re-election, de Moraes banned him from office until 2030 in the name of protecting democracy.

  • The trend: Establishments frequently use courts to block populist successes. Judges in Europe have repeatedly blocked immigration enforcement, and the German establishment is considering using the courts to ban a populist-right party.

Heavy action: De Moraes seeks to ban skepticism over the legitimacy of Bolsonaro’s narrow election loss. In doing so, he has demanded the shuttering of specific undisclosed X accounts and the contents of their messages, as well as the censoring of sitting Brazilian politicians.

What’s next: De Moraes has now included Elon Musk in an investigation over launching a “disinformation campaign.” Musk has said he will challenge de Moraes as far as he legally can. The billionaire also threatened to release damaging information about de Moraes, which he claims would reveal the judge to be a traitor to Brazil.

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