An article of the Trinidad Express, which is no longer online but can be found in the Internet's cache, states:
...online information exchange Jahaji Bhai, Bahen was shut down yesterday after its moderators were warned that some of its internet posts might be in violation of the current State of Emergency in Trinidad and Tobago.
The nature of the posts has not been revealed, but it seems an opportune moment to explain to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago that on the Internet people have their own identities and express their own opinions - and that the closure of any site, any email list, any Facebook group or any other form of expression on the Internet is folly because those willing to express their opinions will do so elsewhere.
Heavy handed threats to publishers for the postings of others is not something unfamiliar in Trinidad and Tobago; indeed, KnowTnT.com has received emails from lawyers in the past that culminated in some blog entries having comments frozen or locked. That lawyers confuse blog posts with comments is disconcerting enough - but this latest development demonstrates the government apparently lacks the capacity to understand that an email list or Facebook Group is not the owner of the opinions expressed.
If people are breaking the laws of Trinidad and Tobago under the State of Emergency through publication of opinion on, for example, a Yahoo Group, it would seem that the government will threaten the coordinators of the group with jail - as alluded to by Mr. Deosaran Bisnath in the article:
...Our moderators perform a voluntary service, 2 or 3 hours every day, but we cannot cope with moderating thousands of messages, posts, and comments every week. We cannot afford to hire full-time moderators; we cannot afford lawyers to represent us in court; and none of us wants to spend time in jail...
Why should a moderator spend time in jail for an opinion expressed by another? An email sent to a list is easily tracked, traced to its source and dealt with accordingly. To fault the moderators is akin to faulting Yahoo, to fault Yahoo is akin to faulting the Internet - and faulting the Internet leads to draconian attempts by government to block internet access. That hasn't worked too well in the past.
The government needs to get a better handle on what social media is, what social media means, and only after those things are done should it consider strategies in dealing with whatever form of postings that could cause issues.
You just can't play chess with the rules of draughts. It is in the government's interests to get this right.