The Vredehof Cemetery in Bodegraven-Reeuwijk: A place of pilgrimage for some social media users
Photo: Robin Utrecht / picture alliance
In the fight for its reputation, the municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk suffered a setback on Tuesday.
A Dutch court has rejected their request that Twitter do much more to address unsubstantiated claims that a satanic pedophile ring was active in Bodegraven in the 1980s.
The District Court of The Hague concluded in summary proceedings that Twitter "has currently done enough to remove illegal content related to the 'Bodegraven story' from its platform".
In this assessment, the court referred, among other things, to the permanent blocking of a Twitter account that had spread defamatory and inflammatory tweets on the subject.
The community of around 35,000 had sued Twitter, demanding the service delete all messages relating to the fabricated stories of the abuse and murder of children in Bodegraven.
When strangers bring flowers
According to the Reuters news agency, the fake stories have been circulating since 2020 and put Bodegraven at the center of online conspiracy myths.
Based on the stories, for example, people from outside are said to have traveled to the local cemetery to lay flowers there and write messages to the graves of dead children.
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The district court has now said it will not order Twitter to voluntarily remove further tweets about Bodegraven from accounts other than the one already suspended.
However, it asked the company to respond to concrete deletion requests from the community as quickly as possible.
Twitter had argued that it was impossible - as requested by the community - to develop a filter that would find problematic content about Bodegraven without also affecting legal content.
Three men accused of creating the Bodegraven myths are currently in prison.
They had been convicted in other court cases involving incitement and death threats.
The threats were directed at Prime Minister Mark Rutte and former Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, for example.
A year ago, the three men were ordered by a court to delete their tweets about Bodegraven.