Musk says House has launched inquiry over X-Brazil battle

Elon Musk said Thursday that the House has launched an inquiry into his company’s work in Brazil after the tech mogul claimed he refused to comply with illegal demands from Brazilian leaders that he ban members of parliament and journalists from his social media platform X.

Musk announced Wednesday that X has “received an inquiry from the U.S. House of Representatives regarding actions taken in Brazil that were in violation of Brazilian law.”

He clarified that the company was “asked to suspend sitting members of the Brazilian parliament and many journalists” by the country’s judiciary.

It is unclear which House committee or member reached out to X over the conflict.

Brazil Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes opened an inquiry into Musk on Sunday after he said he would reactivate accounts on X that the judge had ordered blocked.

De Moraes, whom Musk called a “dictator” in a later post, said the company would be fined about $20,000 per day if it does not comply with his order.

Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” opposed de Moraes’s initial order to ban accounts but complied with the demands. The company’s government affairs account posted last week that the order to suspend accounts was vague and did not include proper explanation.

The tech billionaire later decided to go back on the order, allowing the accounts back on the platform earlier this week.

“This judge has applied massive fines, threatened to arrest our employees and cut off access to X in Brazil,” Musk posted last week. “As a result, we will probably lose all revenue in Brazil and have to shut down our office there. But principles matter more than profit.”

He also turned on de Moraes himself, demanding his resignation.

“This judge has brazenly and repeatedly betrayed the constitution and people of Brazil,” he wrote. “He should resign or be impeached.”

De Moraes’s actions against X are part of a sweeping investigation against fake news in Brazil. Since 2019, de Moraes’s anti-disinformation investigations have resulted in Telegram being ordered to shutter in the country and expanded powers for tech companies to remove fake news surrounding elections, under threat of suspension.

He is the same judge who ordered an investigation into former Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and his role in post-election riots last year that drew comparisons to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots. He has also jailed some Bolsonaro supporters for what he described as attacks on the country’s democracy.

Brazilian Attorney General Jorge Messias backed de Moraes in a post on X on Saturday, saying it is “urgent” that Brazil regulate social media platforms.

“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,” Messias wrote in Portuguese. “Social peace is non-negotiable.”

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