A Dutch village associated on Twitter with pedo-satanic crimes has lost its legal battle against the social network, which is doing enough to prevent the conspiracy theory from spreading according to a court judgment handed down on Tuesday. The municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk, located in the west of the Netherlands, took Twitter to court in September, asking it to delete all tweets associating the village with pedo-satanic crimes.
The “Bodegraven story” had been spread by three men on several social networks between January and June 2021. One of them had claimed to have been a witness and victim of satanic ritual abuse and murders of young children. Calls had been made to come to the village to lay flowers and messages on the graves of “victims”, to which several dozen people had responded.
A permanently suspended account
In 2021, the village had sued the three men, sentenced to delete unfounded stories on the internet. The municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk, however, felt that Twitter was not doing enough to prevent the story from spreading and asked them to delete all tweets echoing it.
Twitter “has currently done enough to remove illegal content about ‘Bodegraven’s story’ from its platform”, however, the court in The Hague ruled after interim proceedings. The social network has permanently suspended an account spreading the “defamatory” tweets and also deleted all retweets from this account, he noted.
“Not everything is illegal”
According to Dutch media, it is the account of “Micha Kat”, an individual who has accused several Dutch personalities of being part of the “pedophile network” and is currently behind bars. Twitter “cannot be forced to remove all messages in which the term ‘Bodegraven’ is associated with ‘child abuse’ on its own initiative and therefore without a request from the municipality”, ruled the court.
The municipality must therefore rely on the “notification and withdrawal procedure”: indicate the tweets it considers to be illegal and ask Twitter to delete them. “Not everything is illegal and a good filter cannot be put in place in this case, according to Twitter,” the court explained. The social network argued that such a filter would affect freedom of expression, removing content denying, for example, the existence of the pedo-satanic network.