A Brazilian Supreme Court judge bans the Telegram messaging app | Social Media News
A Brazilian judge has said the messaging platform popular with President Jair Bolsonaro failed to comply with court orders.
A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has ordered the popular messaging app Telegram to be shut down in the country, banning one of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s favorite communication channels ahead of this year’s election.
In a decision released on Friday, Judge Alexandre de Moraes ordered the app to be immediately blocked across the South American country, citing Telegram’s failure to comply with orders from Brazilian authorities and the removal of messages containing misinformation.
The decision comes as Bolsonaro prepares for re-election in October, relying on Telegram to rally his base amid waning public support and criticism of his government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. The president has over a million followers on the platform.
“Telegram’s lack of respect for Brazilian law and the repeated disrespect of countless court rulings…is completely inconsistent with the rule of law,” Moraes wrote in his decision.
The judge said the company had repeatedly refused to comply with rulings and demands from the police, the High Electoral Court and the Supreme Court itself.
This includes a Supreme Court-ordered investigation into allegations that the Bolsonaro administration used official communication channels to spread disinformation, he said. Bolsonaro openly clashed with Moraes, who ordered him to personally investigate the matter.
The president took to Twitter on Friday, posting a link to subscribe to his channel on Telegram, which was still operational in Brazil as of the afternoon.
“Our telegram informs people every day of many important actions of national interest, which many unfortunately omit,” Bolsonaro said. “Welcome and share the truth.”
Meanwhile, the judge gave Wilson Diniz Wellisch, the head of telecoms regulator Anatel, 24 hours to implement the stay, which would last until Telegram complies with outstanding court orders, pays a series of fines and presents a representative of the country in court.
Moraes also ordered Apple and Google to block users of their platforms from using Telegram in Brazil; both tech giants declined to comment.
Anatel said it had “transmitted the court ruling to entities operating in the regulated sector”.
Telegram, which has proven popular with far-right groups around the world, did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters news agency. Brazilian Federal Police also declined to comment.
In a political playbook similar to the one used by former US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has repeatedly said in recent months that Brazil’s electronic voting system was rigged in the 2018 presidential election, that he had won.
He also questioned the integrity of this year’s election, implying that he might not accept the results unless the electronic system is replaced with one that includes printed receipts that can be recounted.
Bolsonaro’s claims have been rebuffed by Brazilian legal experts and critics have accused him of seeking to sow doubt ahead of the vote in order to challenge the results.
The far-right leader is expected to face leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is expected to win against Bolsonaro at the polls.
Bolsonaro, who has seen multiple posts blocked on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for breaking their misinformation rules, urged his base to follow him on Telegram ahead of the October election.
The decision “will have great political and electoral repercussions,” tweeted political analyst and digital communications specialist Pablo Ortellado. “It could displace one of the main elements of the game from the campaign.”