Twitter wades into Dutch election – Tech giant accused of ‘censoring’ debate

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Thierry Baudet, who leads the right-wing Forum for Democracy, was slapped down by the social media giant for breaching its policy to fight “antivax” content. The politician claimed he would “absolutely not” be jabbed and claimed those who have had suffered some serious side-effects. Mr Baudet tweeted: “The virus poses a negligible risk for me.

“The side effects are serious. And the long-term impact on the immune system is unknown.”

Twitter has since prevented other social media users from liking, retweeting or replying to the post.

The Dutch elections, due to take place on March 17, have been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The government’s response to the health crisis, including a controversial national curfew, has dominated the debate.

Mr Baudet’s FvD party accused Twitter of “censoring” the debate to damage its chances in the elections.

“American Big Tech company censors Dutch party leader a week before the election,” the party wrote on Twitter.

“If that is not foreign interference in Dutch democracy, then what is?”

The FvD is expected to win five seats, up from two in the last national election five years ago.

Twitter’s foray into Dutch politics during an election is considered unprecedented.

Controversial anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, who leads the Freedom Party, has never been censored.

The latest opinion polls suggest that current prime minister Mark Rutte will cling to power.

But he will be forced to form his fourth coalition government, with the Christian Democrats and liberals, due to a highly fragmented parliament.

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Mr Rutte’s conservative VVD is expected to increase its number of seats with Dutch voters seemingly supportive of his coronavirus lockdown measures.

The introduction of a national curfew sparked violent riots, the worst seen in the Netherlands for 40 years.

Coronavirus has helped mainstream politicians, many of whom haven’t been actively campaigning, squeeze out Islam and immigration from the debate.

André Krouwel, a political scientist at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, said: “This election is very much Covid and also the economic decline crisis that will emerge from this.

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“That changes from previous elections when it was more about immigration and European integration.”

Covid measures have restricted politicians from holding their usual rallies.

Mr Baudet has defied the restrictions to host his own campaign events, posting videos and pictures alongside sometimes hundreds of supporters.

Polling shows as many as 15 political parties could win seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament.

Up to 37 parties are currently contesting the election.

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