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Brazil lifts ban on Telegram

Turns out Brazil accepted Telegram’s reasons for failing to attend to content takedown request. Or so it seems because the ban on the messaging platform in the South American country has been lifted. Telegram claimed the demands were going to an email it was not actively monitoring.

The Brazilian Supreme Court reversed itself after Telegram agreed to make some changes that would help reduce the spread of misinformation. The company took out information posted by president Jair Bolsonaro, which contained classified information. It also removed accounts operated by Allan dos Santos, a supporter of Bolsonaro who has been accused of propagating misinformation.

Telegram has also agreed to put warning labels on posts that contain misinformation while promoting those that are factual. It will also watch the 100 biggest Brazilian channels closely to be able to step in quickly.

“Considering that the (court’s requested changes) were fully attended to, I revoke the decision to fully and completely suspend the operation of Telegram in Brazil,” Judge Alexandre de Moraes wrote in a document released by the court.

President Bolsonaro frequently uses Telegram to pass information, where he has more than 1.1 million subscribers. This mirrors former US President Donald Trump’s prodigious use of Twitter before he was permanently banned in connection with events on Jan 6th of last year at the Capitol. Bolsonaro has often expressed his admiration of Trump.

The president had been encouraging his supporters to use Telegram after Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube blocked some of his posts for containing misinformation.

Bolsonaro is being investigated for leaking confidential police documents. He has also been accused of spreading misinformation.

Moraes specifically asked Telegram to remove a post by Bolsonaro in which he questioned the integrity of the electronic voting apparatus of the country without providing evidence. Again, this was similar to posts by Trump, who cast doubt on the US voting system. Telegram complied, and viewers saw “This message cannot be shown…because it violated local laws” when they tried to view the post.

In his reaction, Bolsonaro said the blocking of Telegram was inadmissible and a threat to the freedom of speech of Brazilians. According to him, the judge “failed to act against the two or three people that, according to him should be blocked, so he decided to affect 70 million people… What is at stake is our freedom.”

Bolsonaro sent out a tweet on Friday that included a link to subscribe to his channel on Telegram.” Our Telegram informs people every day of many important actions of national interest, which many regrettably omit. Welcome, and share the truth.”

In effect, the ban on Telegram, ordered by Moraes, survived for only two days. However, the order never technically went into effect as Telegram worked as expected through the weekend.

Moraes is a vocal opponent of Bolsonaro, and the president has called for his impeachment. 

Founder and CEO of Telegram, Pavel Durov, explained his company failed to act on the requests because the Supreme Court did not send the emails to a dedicated address but continued to mail to an old general-purpose address. Apparently, Telegram was not paying attention to the old email.

Pavel requested the court postpone the order to give his company time to appoint a country rep and improve communications with the court. Moraes then gave Telegram 24 hours to implement the changes for the ban to be lifted.

Telegram treasures its reputation for not cooperating with authorities on censoring posts.

Written by HackerVibes

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