Brazil bans Telegram over misinformation concerns

Brazil’s approach is notable for the way it tries to force companies that are the backbone of the Internet to block Telegram’s web traffic. The policy even covers people who try to use software to circumvent the ban by redirecting their web traffic through other countries. Mr De Moraes said anyone caught could face a $20,000 fine.

The policy “is trying to attack from different fronts, so maybe it’s feasible,” said Lucas Lago, a Brazilian software researcher.

While misinformation is a major concern on the platform, many major news outlets use Telegram to deliver content, including The New York Times.

Bolsonaro supporters immediately criticized the ban. Carla Zambelli, a Brazilian congressman and longstanding supporter of the president, said on Twitter that Telegram is “the only current instrument in which we have freedom of expression” and called Mr de Moraes a “tyrant”.

Senator Humberto Costa, a left-wing critic of Bolsonaro, said that “the fake news stock market has plummeted. The Bolsonaros have lost part of their legacy of lies.”

Representatives of Mr Bolsonaro and Mr de Moraes did not respond to requests for comment. Apple and Google declined to comment.

Ms Oates, a professor at the University of Maryland, said Telegram had become known for ignoring government contracts and requests for data. Still, she added that because Telegram was so overwhelmingly popular with the right wing in Brazil, the injunction could be seen as a partisan move.

“On the one hand, it’s understandable that you want to regulate your media space, and platforms like these exacerbate existing problems,” she said. “On the other hand, it can be perceived as unfair because it is aimed at a certain group of people.”

André Spigariol contributed from Brasília, Brazil, and Leonardo Coelho from Rio de Janeiro.

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