In January, Bolsonaro was asked by supporters what he thought about scrutinies into Telegram. He said, “It is cowardice what they are trying to do to Brazil.” The president has also, often accused de Moraes and Brazil’s top court of rulings that go against freedom of speech.
Justice Alexandre De Moraes of Brazil’s Supreme Court on Friday ordered the shutdown of messaging app Telegram nationwide, arguing it has not cooperated with Brazilian authorities.
The shutdown appears in light of ignorance of earlier orders regarding an arrest warrant issued in name of a blogger Allan dos Santos who is an ally of the current president Jaire Bolsonaro and has been spreading fake news on telegram. The activist, a fugitive now based in the United States, has remained active on Telegram
Telegram also ignored requests from Brazilian authorities, including a police request to block profiles and provide information linked to the blogger. The justice added that Telegram has also failed to name a legal representative in Brazil, unlike its competitors.
Many of Bolsonaro’s supporters have turned to Telegram since the messaging app’s competitor WhatsApp changed its policies on message sharing. Bolsonaro and his allies have encouraged followers to join Telegram since January 2021.
One of the telegram’s founders, Pavel Durov, said in a statement that Telegram “had an issue with emails going between our telegram.org corporate addresses and the Brazilian Supreme Court. As a result of this miscommunication, the Court ruled to ban Telegram for being unresponsive.”
“I apologize to the Brazilian Supreme Court for our negligence. We definitely could have done a better job,” Durov said. “We complied with an earlier court decision in late February and responded with a suggestion to send future takedown requests to a dedicated email address. Unfortunately, our response must have been lost, because the Court used the old general-purpose email address in further attempts to reach us.”
Durov also asked the court to “consider delaying its ruling for a few days at its discretion to allow us to remedy the situation by appointing a representative in Brazil and setting up a framework to react to future pressing issues like this in an expedited manner.”
Telegram’s services remained active till Friday evening and fact-checking website Aos-Fatos which has been monitoring pro-Bolsonaro pages on telegram reported that several supporters of the Brazilian president have been sharing tutorials on how to install virtual private networks (VPNs) so they could continue using Telegram.
Bolsonaro has also promised to keep sharing messages on an alternative messaging app Gettr, which was founded by former Trump adviser Jason Miller.