Brazil lifts ban on Telegram after two days

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Brazil lifts ban on Telegram after two days

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court, election officials and federal police have been trying to get a response from the fast-growing messaging app Telegram for months. It turns out, all they had to do was ban it.

On Friday, Brazil’s Supreme Court blocked Telegram in the country because the company behind the app was ignoring court orders.

Then, all of a sudden, the Telegram chief executive responded — with a pedestrian excuse: His company had recalled the court email. “I apologize to the Supreme Court of Brazil for my negligence,” said executive Pavel Durov.

Telegram acted swiftly over the weekend to comply with court orders, including deleting classified information shared by President Jair Bolsonaro’s account and deleting the accounts of a prominent supporter of Mr. Bolsonaro, who has been accused of spreading misinformation. has been accused of.

That action satisfied the court. The court lifted the ban on Telegram late on Sunday night.

But Telegram went even further in an effort to avoid the ban. The app made several other changes to Brazil to combat misinformation on its app, which worried Brazilian officials ahead of the presidential election in October. Telegram said that among the changes, it would start promoting verified information in Brazil and flagging false posts as false, while employees would monitor the 100 most popular channels in Brazil, which account for 95 percent of public posts in the country. Responsible for ideas.

“The app has always been ready to cooperate with the authorities. What happened was a misunderstanding regarding communications,” said Alan Thomaz, Telegram’s lawyer in Brazil, who was appointed as part of Telegram’s court response on Sunday.

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The court’s counterattack was so swift that the ban never took effect. While the court order was in law for two days, the ban gave internet providers, wireless companies and Apple and Google five days to comply.

The ban was imposed and lifted by Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes, who has emerged as a major rival to Mr Bolsonaro. He is overseeing several investigations into the president and his aides. Mr Bolsonaro criticized the ban, calling it “unacceptable” and his administration immediately challenged it in court.

Telegram has long maintained a pragmatic approach to the content on its apps, which has made it popular with right-wing users who complain that their views are censored on more mainstream social networks. This means Telegram has become an important broadcasting channel for Mr. Bolsonaro, amassing nearly 1.1 million followers on the app. His top rival in the 2020 presidential race, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has less than 50,000.

Brazil is an important market for Telegram, and losing access to the country would be a major blow to a company that is growing in popularity. According to app data firm, Sensor Tower, since 2014, Telegram has been downloaded about 85 million times in Brazil, 29 percent of which came in the last year.

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