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Facebook bows to Brazil judge, blocks 12 accounts worldwide

by Ace Damon

BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL – Facebook announced on Saturday that it had obeyed the order of a Brazilian judge for a worldwide block on the accounts of 12 supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro who are under investigation for allegedly running a fake news network.

Supreme Federal Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes said on Friday night that the company had not fully complied with an earlier decision to close accounts, saying they were still online and publishing, changing its registration to locations outside of Brazil.

Facebook issued a statement saying it complied due to the threat of criminal liability from an employee in Brazil.

But he called the new order “extreme”, saying it represents a “threat to freedom of expression outside Brazilian jurisdiction and conflicting with laws and jurisdictions around the world”. The company said it would appeal to the entire court.

Facebook also argued that it had complied with the previous order, “restricting the ability for destination pages and profiles to be viewed on IP locations in Brazil”.

“People from IP locations in Brazil were not able to see these pages and profiles, even if the targets had changed their IP location,” said the company.

Moraes said Facebook should pay $ 367,000 in fines for failing to comply with its previous decision in the past eight days.

He had also decided that Twitter should block accounts. Although Twitter said the decision was “disproportionate” under Brazil’s free speech rules and that it would appeal, targeted profiles have been disabled.

Moraes is overseeing a controversial investigation to determine whether some of Bolsonaro’s most ardent allies are running a social media network that aims to spread threats and false news against Supreme Court judges.

The investigation is one of the main points of confrontation between Bolsonaro and the Federal Supreme Court.

The President himself filed a lawsuit last week demanding that the accounts be unlocked.

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