On Sunday in Brazil, Telegram, the popular messaging app that had been blocked two days earlier by the Supreme Court for failure to comply with a specific request by the same court to remove some posts containing fake news, returned to work. Pavel Durov, founder and chief executive of Telegram, had responded to the block with a message posted on his public channel explaining that the removal of the posts was not due to a refusal to obey court requests, but to an alleged error of the Court, which would have sent the request to the wrong address.
According to the Telegram version, a first request from the court came in February. The app managers had responded to the court asking to send any new requests to a specific email address, which had not happened. The court had written again to a generic corporate email address, which no one had opened before Friday, the day the court had decided to block the app. When the email was finally read, Durov argued, the company immediately started a process of reviewing the disputed content.
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The affair involving Telegram and the Supreme Court is told a lot by local newspapers due to the way in which Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro (far right) and his supporters are using the app in view of the presidential elections, scheduled for next October 2nd. .
Among other things, the Supreme Court had asked Telegram to cancel a message published last August by Bolsonaro, in which the president spoke of an alleged cyber attack on the country's electoral system, without having proof of it. Other messages which the Court had requested the cancellation had been published by the well-known blogger Allan dos Santos, supporter of Bolsonaro, accused on several occasions of spreading false news on his Telegram channel.
In recent months, several social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, had deleted posts published by Bolsonaro because they contained false news, especially regarding the coronavirus. Bolsonaro had therefore decided to focus on Telegram, where the contents are not moderated.
Over the course of the weekend, Telegram then removed the disputed content, and on Sunday evening the Brazilian Supreme Court restored access to the app in the country. In addition to meeting the Court's requests, the Telegram managers also pledged to promote verified information, flag false information, and scrupulously check the 100 most popular channels in the country, ahead of the elections.