Dutch parliament chair calls on Twitter to prevent threatening messages on platform

FILE PHOTO: A keyboard is placed in front of a displayed Twitter logo in this illustration taken February 21, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The chairwoman of the Dutch parliament on Wednesday called on Twitter to act to stop threats being broadcast on the social media platform against the country's lawmakers.

Vera Bergkamp made public a letter she sent to the U.S. company's Global Affairs department expressing "deep concern" for recent tweets targeting members of parliament that contained death threats "and calls for violence and even murder".

"These are probably punishable under Dutch criminal law," she tweeted.

The leader of the Netherlands' anti-Islam Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, has been the frequent target of death threats on Twitter for more than a decade.

Billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter in October 2022 and quickly cut staff, including some responsible for content moderation in favor of more automated systems.

Musk, a self-proclaimed "free speech absolutist," has said he bought Twitter to prevent the platform from becoming an echo chamber for hate and division.

"I understand Twitter works hard to minimize toxic and illegal content," Bergkamp wrote.

"Despite that I urge you to take immediate action to address this issue .. in order to protect our freedom of expression."

Requests for comment sent to Twitter's press email and the company's Global Affairs account were not immediately answered.

Although she is not a member of parliament, the Netherlands' Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag of the centre-left D-66 Party has also been subjected to online and offline threats.

Last week, Kaag indicated she may consider quitting politics as a result, sparking a national discussion.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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