Netherlands: Village targeted by conspiracy theory loses to Twitter

Netherlands: Village targeted by conspiracy theory loses to Twitter

A Dutch village linked to pedo-satanic crimes on Twitter has lost its legal battle against the social network, which, according to a Tuesday court ruling, is doing enough to stop the conspiracy theory from spreading. The municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk in the western Netherlands sued Twitter in September, demanding it delete all tweets linking the village to pedo-satanic crimes.

The “Bodegraven story” was spread by three men on several social networks between January and June 2021. One of them had claimed to have witnessed and been the victim of satanic ritual abuse and murder of young children. Calls had been made to come to the village to lay flowers and messages on the graves of the “victims,” ​​who were followed by dozens of people.

A permanently suspended account

In 2021, the village had sued the three men, ordered to delete unsubstantiated stories from the internet. However, the municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk felt that Twitter was not doing enough to prevent the story from spreading and asked them to delete all tweets in which it is reproduced.

Twitter “has currently done enough to remove illegal content related to ‘Bodegraven’s story’ from its platform,” the court in The Hague ruled after preliminary proceedings. The social network permanently banned an account that was posting the “defamatory” tweets and also deleted all retweets from that account, he noted.

“Not everything is illegal”

According to Dutch media, this is the account of “Micha Kat”, a person who has accused several Dutch personalities of being part of the “pedophile network” and is currently behind bars. Twitter “cannot be compelled to remove, on its own initiative and without the request of the community, all messages in which the term ‘Bodegraven’ is associated with ‘child abuse,'” the court ruled.

The municipality must therefore rely on the “reporting and revocation procedure”: mark the tweets that they consider illegal and ask Twitter to delete them. “Not everything is illegal and according to Twitter a good filter cannot be used in this case,” the court said. The social network argued that such a filter would interfere with freedom of expression and remove content that, for example, denies the existence of the pedo-satanic network.


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