Michael Shellenberger, from Twitter Files, says the former president is “controversial” but has the right to run for election

The American journalist Michael Shellenberger criticized the TSE (Superior Electoral Court) for having left former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL) ineligible for the 2026 elections. In an interview with Poder360 this Tuesday (April 9, 2024), the author of Twitter Files Brazil said that the decision leaves the country to “one step” of a dictatorship.

“I’m worried about people using the system to veto others from being candidates, I see this happening with Bolsonaro and it makes me scared for Brazil. You must be aware of this. If you are restricting who can or cannot apply, you are one step away from dictatorship,” said the journalist.

Shellenberger said he has no assessment of the investigations into Bolsonaro’s alleged coup plans. He added that, regardless of this, vetoing him in the electoral dispute harms democracy.

“I know that Bolsonaro is a controversial person, like Donald Trump, but he has the right to be a candidate. I found it very bad that there were some people who wanted to prevent Trump from being a candidate in the United States. He must be a candidate”, these.

Watch (1min29s):

Read more about Twitter Files’ Michael Shellenberger’s interview with Poder360:

Michael Shellenberger was responsible for releasing on Wednesday (April 3, 2024) emails exchanged between representatives of X (former Twitter) in Brazil and the United States. Employees reported repeated requests from Justice and the Brazilian Congress for the platform to reveal personal data from profiles on the social network. The company reportedly refused part of the requests imposed. Read the full content here.

Here are other highlights from the journalist’s speech to Poder360:

  • more information from Twitter Files “I believe that all material that is of public interest has been disclosed. My journalist partners found more. It is possible that they will publish it. I was reading it in a hurry, so I could publish it quickly when I arrived in Brazil. Yes, more details may come, but the main information has already been published. […] There was a lot of demand within the United States for information [do Twitter Files] about covid-19. We published a lot of things after that. But, after discovering that Twitter had not censored information about Covid, unlike other platforms, I believe that Elon Musk became discouraged and considered that he had already published the most relevant part. But I still have the files on my computer.”
  • “right to lie” “We need to let people express that the election was not fair. I don’t agree with [Donald] Trump [ex-presidente dos EUA], but I think it’s important that people are free to express their opinion that the election was stolen. How will we know if there was a correct election or not? Freedom of expression has limits, but people need the right to lie. The truth is that everyone lies. Politicians say ‘I won, I was robbed’, and it’s important to let them say that. In this situation, society can ask for evidence. If not, the politician is proven to be lying. The debate must exist, not be censored”;
  • Fake news PL (bill) brings Brazil and Cuba closer[O texto] is similar to what we have in Cuba: the government deciding what is true, like the minister of truth in George Orwell’s book ‘1984’. This is a dictatorship. People need to have their own debate. As a former socialist, I was very inspired by the PT because I saw it as very open, it wasn’t like Fidel Castro. Lula himself [PT] fought against the dictatorship. I still have respect for him, in fact, he’s an impressive person. But demanding this legislation seems to me to be a very contradictory thing. [com a liberdade de expressão].


On Wednesday (April 3), North American journalist Michael Shellenberger published an exchange of emails between employees in the legal sector of X in Brazil between 2020 and 2022 talking about requests and court orders received regarding content from its users.

The messages would show requests from various instances of the Brazilian Judiciary requesting personal data from users who used hashtags about the electoral process and content moderation.

Shellenberger specifically criticized STF (Supreme Federal Court) minister Alexandre de Moraes, criticizing him for “leading a case of widespread repression of freedom of expression in Brazil”. According to him, Moraes’ decisions as president of the TSE (Superior Electoral Court) “threaten democracy in Brazil” when asking for interventions in publications by members of the National Congress and personal account data, which violates the platform’s guidelines. The records of the aforementioned processes are confidential.

The case was named Twitter Files Brazil in reference to the Twitter Files originally published in 2022, after Musk bought X, in October of that year.

At the time, Musk delivered material to journalists that indicated how the social network, in the 2020 US elections, collaborated with US authorities to block users and suppress content about candidate Joe Biden’s son, who was elected president.

The files published by journalists include email exchanges that reveal, to some extent, how Twitter reacted to requests from governments to intervene in the policy of publishing and removing content. In some cases, the social network ended up giving in.

In the Brazilian case, Musk was not indicated as the source who provided the material, however, the businessman criticized Moraes for a few days.


Moraes determined on Sunday (April 7) the inclusion of the owner of X as being investigated in the digital militias inquiry, filed in July 2021, which investigates groups for conduct against democracy.

The minister also opened a new investigation to investigate Elon Musk’s conduct. The magistrate wants the crime of obstruction of justice to be investigated, “including criminal organization and incitement to crime”.

Not Saturday (Apr 6), Elon Musk He asked why minister Alexandre de Moraes “No Brazil demands so much censorship”. The businessman responded to a publication by the minister in X on January 11th.

Musk’s comment came in the wake of accusations made by North American journalist Michael Shellenberger on Wednesday (April 3). According to Shellenberger, the minister has “led a case of widespread repression of freedom of expression in Brazil”.

The critical comments escalated the tone and Musk said that he is thinking about closing Twitter in Brazil and that he will publicize Moraes’ demands that violate laws. He also called the minister “tyrant”, “totalitarian” e “draconiano”saying he should “resign or be impeached”.

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Source: https://www.poder360.com.br/internacional/impedir-bolsonaro-de-concorrer-e-passo-para-ditadura-diz-jornalista/

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