Updated Apr 8, 2024 - Technology

Musk faces Brazilian inquiry after vowing to defy X court order

SpaceX, X (formerly known as Twitter), and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during live interview with Ben Shapiro at the symposium on fighting antisemitism on January 22, 2024 in Krakow, Poland.

Elon Musk in Krakow, Poland, earlier this year. Photo: Omar Marques/Getty Images

A Brazil Supreme Court judge is investigating Elon Musk for alleged obstruction of justice after the billionaire vowed to defy a court order in Latin America's largest nation blocking certain accounts on his platform, per multiple reports.

The big picture: Brazilian officials have been cracking down on social media accounts that spread misinformation and hate speech and X at first followed the order, though noted in a Saturday post that Brazilians, "regardless of their political beliefs, are entitled to freedom of speech."

Driving the news: Self-proclaimed free speech "absolutist" Musk claimed in a post to X Sunday that Justice Alexandre de Moraes had "brazenly and repeatedly betrayed the constitution and people of Brazil" and he "should resign or be impeached."

  • Musk said in a Saturday post that X would lift all restrictions and that the judge "has applied massive fines, threatened to arrest our employees and cut off access to 𝕏 in Brazil," so the company "will probably lose all revenue in Brazil and have to shut down our office there" as a result.
  • De Moraes said in his decision to open an inquiry that "X shall refrain from disobeying any court order already issued, including performing any profile reactivation that has been blocked by this Supreme Court," Reuters reports.

What we're watching: De Moraes said Musk, one of the world's richest people, would face a fine that equates to $20,000 every time an account is reactivated on X, according to AFP.

  • Meanwhile, Brazilian Attorney General Jorge Messias said social media networks should be regulated as a matter of urgency.
  • "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," he added in a post on X.

What they're saying: "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, AP reports.

  • Musk in a Sunday evening post to X told users they "can still access the 𝕏 platform, download a virtual private network (VPN) app."
  • Representatives for X did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

More from Axios:

Editor's note: This article has been updated with further details on the judge's order and comment from Musk.

Go deeper