Bodegraven-Reeuwijk, a small Dutch town, was targeted by three men who spread rumours about a supposed ring of satan-worshipping paedophiles that were alleged to be active there in the 19080s.
The men started these conspiracy theories and spread them on social media in 2020. The unfounded stories tell how children were abused and murdered in Bodegraven-Reeuwijk in the’80s.
According to Reuters, the main instigator of the conspiracy theories said he witnessed children being abused in the town during his childhood.
Followers of the conspiracy theorists flocked to the town, put flowers and left messages at the graves of random dead children who they claimed were victims of the murderous satanic cult.
In 2021, the Hague District Court ordered the men to immediately remove all messages, threats and online content about the Bodegraven-Reeuwijk story and to make sure it could never emerge again.
Despite this, stories about the small town of about 35 000 people still circulate on social media as other people continue to recount the conspiracy theories.
The men behind the story, originally, are currently in jail as they were convicted in other courts for matters including incitement of violence, making death threats against a number of people, including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and former health minister Hugo de Jonge.
TOWN TAKES TWITTER TO TASK
On Friday, 16 September, Bodegraven-Reeuwijk took Twitter to the Hague District Court. It feels that Twitter needs to actively remove harmful messages.
“If conspiracy theorists don’t remove their messages, then the platforms involved need to act,” said the town’s lawyer, Cees van de Zanden, to Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.
According to the lawyer, the town asked Twitter to find and remove all messages related to the story in July but has not received any word from the American company.
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