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X Faces a Ban in Brazil as Elon Defies Government Order To Censor Users

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It seems like X (formerly Twitter) could be facing a ban in Brazil, after Elon Musk’s latest decision to defy a court order to block “certain popular accounts in Brazil

On Saturday, X shared this overview of the situation, and the actions that it was being essentially forced to take as a result:

Elon Musk was then directly questioned about this, in relation to another post that he’s shared about the request, and in response, he announced that X would actually not be adhering to this request, and that all restrictions would be lifted.

And while I get that unpredictability is part of the Elon Musk experience, the announcement is particularly inconsistent with his approach.

For example, here are two exchanges on X, posted almost a year apart:

X censorship

So on the left, we have Elon being challenged over complying with an order from the Turkish Government to censor certain users in the lead-up to the local election. As Musk notes, the choice that X (Twitter) had here was to adhere to the request, or risk having X shut down completely in the region. As such, they had no choice but to comply.

On the right, we have this weekend’s example of Musk backflipping on this exact stance, with Elon noting that by rejecting a Brazilian Government request for similar censorship, X may be cut off entirely in the region. But he’s willing to take that risk in this instance.

So which is it? Is X going to stand on its principles and push back against government censorship, even at the risk of being shut down in said region, or does X need to adhere to the law of the land, as Musk has repeatedly noted on such requests?

That’s the stance that Musk has underlined in similar cases in both India and Germany, where X has also honored government requests for censorship.

Musk has maintained this since the beginning of his tenure at the app, that X, under his leadership, will adhere to local laws, and that the people in each region will decide with their votes whether that’s fair or not.

And that makes sense. Twitter’s faced many legal challenges over time in relation to government requests for censorship, and Elon knows that challenging each of these would pose a big risk to X’s business, regardless of personal stances.

Yet, this time, he has decided to take a stand, despite those risks.

So why now, why Brazil?

Well, it’s not because Brazil has no X users.

Brazil, reportedly, has the sixth highest amount of active users of the app, with 21 million Brazilians using X. India is the third biggest market for the company, with 30 million local users, Turkey has around 23 million X users, while Germany has around 15 million actives.  

So it’s not like this is a calculated risk, and Elon’s picking his battles based on relative impact.

So why else would Elon be willing to take on Brazilian authorities, but not those in other regions?

Could it be because Elon’s other business, Tesla, doesn’t have as much exposure in Brazil?

Tesla is yet to make much of a dent in the South American market, though it is heavily reliant, and/or seeking to expand its footprint, in each of these other nations.

Tesla is working with the Indian Government on plans to build a new production facility in the nation, as part of its broader effort to tap into the Indian market, while Musk has also discussed building a Tesla factory in Turkey as well, via talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. Telsa also already has a factory in Berlin, and maybe, that conflict is what’s empowering Musk to make a stand in this case, without fear of the Brazilian Government retaliating with sanctions that could hurt his key money-making business.

That seems to be the most logical consideration, because otherwise it makes no sense why Elon has decided to stand up to Brazilian authorities in this instance, while bowing to similar demands every other time.

Or maybe it’s the beginning of a new era, where Elon will stand up to authoritarian regimes, in defense of his much-touted free speech ethos.

But I doubt it.

It’s a skeptical view, I know, but it’s just so inconsistent on the face of it, that it seems like there must be some other logic that we don’t see in this case.

Either way, X could be banned from Brazil as a result of Elon Musk’s latest stance, with Brazilian authorities now scrambling to enact regulations to punish Musk for his stance.

Will this be the new norm, with Musk now willing to take a stand against government requests, at the risk of the entire business?

We’ll see what comes next, but I remain doubtful that Elon will hold firm in nations where his other businesses could be impacted.



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