A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has ordered the shutdown of Telegram, a popular messaging service used by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, ahead of elections later this year. Judge Alexandre de Moraes ordered the app to be stopped immediately across the South American nation in a ruling issued on Friday, citing Telegram’s refusal to comply with instructions from Brazilian authorities and erase communications containing disinformation.
Bolsonaro’s move comes as he prepares to run for re-election in October, relying on Telegram to bolster his support amid dwindling public support and criticism over his government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. On the platform, the president has over a million followers. In his judgement, Moraes noted, “Telegram’s contempt for Brazilian law and persistent inability to comply with multiple court decisions… is entirely incompatible with the rule of law.”
According to the judge, the corporation has consistently refused to comply with police, the Superior Electoral Tribunal, and the Supreme Court’s own orders and requests. He mentioned a Supreme Court-ordered probe into charges that the Bolsonaro government utilized official communication channels to disseminate false material. Bolsonaro has openly feuded with Moraes, who has demanded him to be examined personally in the matter. On Friday, the president took to Twitter, posting a link to subscribe to his Telegram channel, which was still active in Brazil in the afternoon.
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