Brazilian Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes has ordered the suspension of the messaging app Telegram, saying it has repeatedly refused to comply with court orders to freeze accounts spreading misinformation or comply with the country’s laws.
In response, Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov apologized for the company’s negligence and asked the court to delay its ruling for a few days as the platform seeks to improve compliance.
President Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters have increasingly relied on the platform as a form of mass communication as major tech companies such as Meta, Google and Twitter comply with Supreme Court orders to take down offending accounts over allegations of misinformation.
Moraes’ decision represents the latest chapter in the battle for justice with Bolsonaro and his allies. It is likely to stir debate over freedom of expression in Brazil.
Torres said he has instructed his department to study a solution to restore people’s right to use any social network they wish.
Telegram has proven popular with far-right groups around the world. Police in Germany blocked 64 Telegram channels in February.
The app has been blamed for fueling a dangerous subculture of anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists who share news about the supposed dangers and orchestrate protests that have spilled into violence.
Bolsonaro also in January accused the country’s top authorities of cowardice for discussing banning the app amid fears it was being used to spread false news.