The affected accounts include high-profile figures such as conservative former lawmaker Roberto Jefferson, business magnate Luciano Hang and far-right activist Sara Winter.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with journalists as he arrives at Alvorada Palace, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Brazil, May 22, 2020.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with journalists as he arrives at Alvorada Palace, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Brazil, May 22, 2020. (Adriano Machado / Reuters)

Facebook has put a global block on certain accounts controlled by supporters of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro implicated in a fake news inquiry, a day after it was fined for not complying with a Supreme Court judge's order to do so.

Brazil's Supreme Court is overseeing an investigation into allegations that members of the far-right president's inner circle ran a social media campaign to discredit the court, as well as slander and threaten its judges.

A spokesperson for Facebook said the order was "extreme" and threatens "freedom of expression outside of Brazil's jurisdiction", but said the company has agreed to the order.

"Given the threat of criminal liability to a local employee, at this point we see no other alternative than complying with the decision by blocking the accounts globally, while we appeal to the Supreme Court," the spokesperson said.

READ MORE: Facebook busts deceptive networks tied to Bolsonaro staff, Trump ally

Jurisdiction in question

Justice Alexandre de Moraes had ruled on Thursday that Facebook and Twitter failed to comply with orders to block the accounts because they were only blocked within Brazil, but remained accessible with foreign IP addresses.

On Friday, he ruled that Facebook must pay a $367,710 (1.92 million reais) fine for not complying and face further daily fines of 100,000 reais per day if it does not block the accounts in question globally.

Before the fine was announced, Facebook said on Friday that it would appeal the decision.

The world's largest social network said it respects the laws of countries where it operates, but that "Brazilian law recognises the limits of its jurisdiction."

The judge's fine only addressed Facebook's non-compliance. It was not clear whether Twitter would face a similar fine.

Social media giants in hot seat

The judge originally decided in May to block 16 Twitter accounts and 12 Facebook accounts of Bolsonaro supporters who have been linked to a probe into the spreading of fake news during Brazil's 2018 election.

The row comes as Facebook and Twitter face increasing pressure in the United States and around the world to act more aggressively against hate speech and false information on their platforms.

In Brazil, it is part of ongoing tension between Bolsonaro and the high court, which has also ordered a probe into allegations the president obstructed justice to protect members of his inner circle from police investigations.

The affected accounts include high-profile figures such as conservative former lawmaker Roberto Jefferson, business magnate Luciano Hang and far-right activist Sara Winter.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies