A small Dutch town filed a lawsuit against Twitter (TWTR.N) on Friday, requesting that the social media giant remove all posts about a purported gang of paedophiles who allegedly practised satanism in the area in the 1980s. The town of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk, which has a population of roughly 35,000 people, has been the subject of conspiracy theories on social media since 2020, when three individuals began spreading untrue rumours about the abuse and murder of children that they claimed occurred in the area in the 1980s.
The primary author of the stories said that he had early memories of seeing a group of individuals abusing a youngster at Bodegraven. The rumours led to a great deal of disturbance in Bodegraven as a large number of the men’s Twitter followers came to the nearby cemetery to place flowers and handwritten notes at the graves of youngsters they said were victims of the satanic network. Before the hearing at The Hague District Court on Friday, Twitter’s attorney Jens van den Brink declined to comment.
The same court ordered the men to delete all of their tweets, threats, and other internet content related to the subject immediately and to make sure that none of it would ever resurface last year. Nevertheless, despite their conviction, news of Bodegraven continues to spread on social media as others have repeated their account, prompting the town to raise the issue with Twitter itself. According to Cees van de Zanden, the attorney for the town of Bodegraven, ‘the platforms concerned need to intervene if conspiracy theorists don’t delete their statements off the platforms’.
Van de Zanden claimed that the town had asked Twitter in July to aggressively look for and remove any posts mentioning the Bodegraven case, not just those made by the three condemned men, but that request had not yet gotten a response from the American corporation. As a result of their convictions in various legal proceedings for inciting and issuing murder threats against a number of people, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte and former Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, the men responsible for the Bodegraven tale are currently all incarcerated.