Judge orders suspension of operations in the country for failing to block accounts accused of spreading ‘fake news’
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A Brazilian judge has ordered the suspension of messaging app Telegram, demanding that it be barred from operating in the country until it complies with orders to censor accounts that spread alleged misinformation.
Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes made the ruling on Friday, banning a communications platform that has been popular with President Jair Bolsonaro and other conservatives. The judge accused Telegram of disrespecting Brazilian law and repeatedly failing to comply with court decisions.
Bolsonaro reacted by posting a Twitter message that included an invitation to join his Telegram channel. “Our Telegram brings many actions of national interest, regrettably omitted by many, every day,” the populist president said. “Welcome, and share the truth.”
– Nosso Telegram traz todos os dias muitas ações de interesse nacional, lamentavelmente omitidas por muitos. Seja bem vindo e compartilhe a verdade 👍🏻. https://t.co/O8KTejUGuLpic.twitter.com/UuN2d0aY6J
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) March 18, 2022
Telegram is so popular in Brazil that it has reportedly been downloaded on 53% of all mobile phones in the country. Like his former US counterpart, ex-President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has been censored on Big Tech platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. He has urged supporters to join him on Telegram.
Battles over censorship are likely to heat up as Brazil’s October 2 election nears. Bolsonaro, who is seeking re-election, earlier this year blasted Brazilian election authorities for considering a ban of Telegram. “What they are doing to Brazil is cowardice,” he said in January.