January 30, 2023

Nikolas Ferreira: Brazil fines Telegram over far-right congressman’s account

2 min read


Justices of the Supreme Court of Brazil Alexander de Maurice Messaging app Telegram was fined on Wednesday for not suspending the account of a far-right elected official and social media influencer, according to a Supreme Court statement.

Earlier in January, the court ordered Telegram to suspend the accounts of Nicolas Ferreira and others “to prevent the spread of criminal phenomena,” the statement said.

The court said the failure to suspend Ferreira’s account was considered indirect support for the continuation of criminal activity.

Ferreira, a federal representative from the state of Minas Gerais, has more than 300,000 subscribers on Telegram, 3.6 million followers on TikTok and more than 6 million followers on Instagram. They tend to post evangelical and far-right content and support former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazilian authorities are still investigating after hundreds of Bolsonaro supporters stormed government buildings in the capital Brasilia in early January, following his defeat in last year’s presidential election.

Ferreira’s social media savvy has played a role in advancing the 26-year-old’s political career. In 2022, he was Chosen with the most votes of any representative running nationwide, and the third most votes cast for any representative in Brazilian history.

Tweeting about the case on Wednesday, Ferreira wrote, “They want me to disappear from the internet.”

Telegram is being fined 100,000 Brazilian reais (about $20,000) a day for non-compliance, according to a news release from the Supreme Court.

In a letter from Telegram to Morris, obtained by CNN Brazil, the company responded that the order be reconsidered.

It points out that Ferreira is an elected official, and says the order did not identify any specific criminal content. “No basis or justification has been provided for blocking the said channel in its entirety, i.e. the specific content which would be considered illegal, has not been served,” the letter said.

CNN has reached out to Telegram for comment.

The Supreme Court acknowledged that Telegram had reported partial compliance with the order, but sought clarification on what specific content to block.

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