Brazilian politics are, like America's, in a volatile and divisive place. And Xitter is reportedly being weaponized in ways that violate Brazilian law — which does not have complete protections for free speech. So Elon Musk is basically threatening to shut down all operations in the country.

On Sunday, Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes announced that Elon Musk and X would be included in a wide-ranging investigation into the dissemination of misinformation in Brazil — an effort that has become known as the digital militias investigation. As the Associated Press reports, Moraes said that the judiciary will look into the "alleged intentional criminal instrumentalization of X" by these digital militias — which have been hostile to the country's high court, and have tended to support former right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

All of this of course sounds familiar, given the tensions over free speech and the alleged censorship of conservative speech on American social media in the last couple election cycles. And Brazil even had its own echo of January 6th on January 8, 2023, when rioters vandalized buildings in Brazil's capital city, Brasilia following the defeat of Bolsonaro and the inauguration of new President Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva.

Given that Brazil's constitution does not protect free speech outright, the judiciary has in recent years been able to briefly shut down the messaging app Telegram within the country over several accounts deemed to be spreading fake news, and the same may occur with X.

"The flagrant conduct of obstruction of Brazilian justice, incitement of crime, the public threat of disobedience of court orders and future lack of cooperation from the platform [X] are facts that disrespect the sovereignty of Brazil," Moraes wrote on Sunday.

The digital militias investigation has been seeking to have the accounts of militia members blocked on X, because they have been deemed to be violating Brazlian law and disseminationg disinformation in order to rally anger against the judiciary itself.

Musk took to X on Saturday to call out Moraes's attacks on free speech, and he has gone on to tweet multiple times in recent days about Brazil and this fight, including on Monday, when he said, "𝕏 supports the people of Brazil, without regard to political affiliation. Does Judge @Alexandre [Moraes]?"

Musk, who was broadly praised and given a special commendation by Bolsonaro two years ago, also tweeted that Moraes "should be on trial for his crimes."

An expert on Brazil, Carlos Affonso, tells the AP that this investigation announcement is a "warning shot" from Moraes, who has not yet threatened to block X in the country. And Musk, also, had not unblocked the prominent accounts that the court is demanding stay blocked — he has just objected to Moraes's demands, in principle, via tweets.

Despite reaping a significant amount of revenue from its operations in Brazil, Musk said he would be forced to shutter X's local office there and cease operating in the country — because "principles matter more than profit."

Brazil's attorney general, Jorge Messias, tweeted in support of Moraes, saying, "We cannot live in a society in which billionaires domiciled abroad have control of social networks and put themselves in a position to violate the rule of law, failing to comply with court orders and threatening our authorities. Social peace is non-negotiable."

This is another in a series of dustups that have occurred over Musk's supposed "free speech absolutism" on the platform that he purchased in 2022. Last fall, an exodus of major advertisers occurred over reports of flagrant antisemitism on the platform that was no longer being moderated or censored — and a response-tweet from Musk himself that was seen as antisemitic. Musk's response to fleeing advertisers was that they could "go fuck yourselves."

In a legal deposition that was just made public, per The Verge, in a defamation case involving a 22-year-old who sued Musk for falsely associating him with a fight between two right-wing groups in Oregon, Musk admitted "I may have done more to financially impair the company than to help it," with regard to his own tweets.

Previously: Judge Tells Musk His Lawsuit Against Hate-Speech Watchdog Group Is Just 'Punishment' For Their Speech

Top image: Previously: Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk reacts during an in-conversation event with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Lancaster House on November 2, 2023 in London, England. Sunak discussed AI with Elon Musk in a conversation that is played on the social network X, which Musk owns. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth - WPA Pool/Getty Images)