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 ruling 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 of Bodegraven with pedo-satanic crimes.
The “Bodegraven story” was spread by three men in 2021. One of them claimed to have been a witness and victim of satanic ritual abuse and murder of young children some 30 years ago.
Calls had been made to lay flowers and messages on the graves of "victims", to which several dozen people had responded.
Concern and anger among residents
Two of the three men were convicted of sedition, threats and defamation by a Dutch court in June, which ruled there was no evidence of any satanic pedophile ring.
The third man was arrested in Northern Ireland in August 2021 and handed over to the Netherlands this year to stand trial on the same charges.
Seeing that the pedo-satanic crime theory was causing 'great concern and anger' among residents, especially parents of children buried at the cemetery, authorities in Bodegraven imposed an emergency order last year to ensure the maintenance of public order.
The municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk felt that Twitter was not doing enough to prevent the story from spreading and asked it to delete all tweets echoing it.
A filter impossible to set up
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 permanently suspended an account spreading the "defamatory" tweets and also deleted all retweets from this account, he noted.
According to Dutch media, it is the account of "Micha Kat", who accused several Dutch personalities of having been part of the "pedophile network" and who is currently behind bars.
Twitter "cannot be forced to remove all posts in which the term 'Bodegraven' is associated with 'child abuse' on its own initiative and therefore without a request from the municipality," the court ruled.
“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.
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