Brazil judge fines Telegram for not suspending far-right congressman’s account

() — Brazilian Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes fined the messaging app Telegram on Wednesday for failing to suspend the account of a far-right elected official and social media influencer, according to a court statement.

In early January, the court ordered Telegram to suspend the accounts of Nikolas Ferreira and others “to stop the spread of criminal demonstrations,” the statement said.

Brazilian Congressman Nikolas Ferreira speaks during an event for evangelicals at a church in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, on Oct. 19, 2022. (Douglas Magno/AFP/Getty Images)

The failure to suspend Ferreira’s account “is considered an indirect collaboration for the continuation of criminal activities,” the court said.

Ferreira, a federal deputy for the state of Minas Gerais, has more than 300,000 subscribers on Telegram, 3.6 million followers on Tik Tok, and more than 6 million followers on Instagram. He tends to post evangelical and far-right content, and supports former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazilian authorities continue to investigate after hundreds of Bolsonaro supporters stormed government buildings in the capital Brasilia in early January, following his defeat in the second round of presidential elections last year.

Ferreira’s social networks have helped catapult the 26-year-old’s political career; in 2022, he was elected with the most votes of all representatives running at the national level and the third most votes cast for any representative in Brazilian history.

Tweeting about the case on Wednesday, Ferreira wrote: “They want to make me disappear from the internet.”

Telegram will be fined 100,000 Brazilian reais (about $20,000) per day of non-compliance, according to a Supreme Court press release.

In a Telegram letter to Moraes, obtained by Brasil, the company responded by asking for the order to be reconsidered.

It notes that Ferreira is an elected official, and says that no specific criminal content was identified in the order. “No grounds or justifications were provided for the complete blocking of said channel, that is, the specific content that would be considered illegal was not presented,” the letter said.

has reached out to Telegram for comment.

The Supreme Court has recognized that Telegram reported partial compliance with the order, but requested clarification on what specific content to block.

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