In the criminal justice system, rape, murder and kidnappings are considered especially heinous. In Trinidad and Tobago however, the Government has determined people posting nonsense on Facebook are the real criminals who demand urgent attention.
Consequently, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has proposed legislation that would criminalise “irresponsible” behaviour online, policing everything from gory pictures of murders, to fake news, to presumably people who don't respond to Government friend requests.
The men and women who will investigate these crimes are known as the Special Facebook Unit. These are their stories.
Episode 1. The Cyberbully
Insps Benson and Stabler visit the home of Anthony, the victim of vicious online cyberbullying.
Insp Benson: So Anthony, tell us what happened.
Anthony: Well there are all these people on Facebook making fun of me and my presidential wine. And telling me I'm wasting taxpayer money. And saying they would rather drink something classier like an Apple J.
Insp Stabler: People are so cruel.
Anthony: The worst part is that they are always bullying me about my housing allowance. Like they want me to give it back or something? But it's my money. I rightfully demanded it from them!
Insp Benson: Don't worry, Anthony. I promise you we're going to catch these people. They will learn they can't mock simple-minded public officials on Facebook.
Anthony: Excellent. Do you think I can get a Facebook allowance now?
The Fake News Terrorist
After a long pursuit into a warehouse, Insps Benson and Stabler apprehend the notorious fake news terrorist known only as “Baldeosingh”.
Insp Stabler: We got you now Baldeosingh, you're charged with posting provocative opinions online without a Government-approved Blogger Licence.
Baldeosingh: I'm telling you the Prime Minister was lying. Domestic violence did not account for one-third of murders last month! Look at the data!
Insp Benson: Only a misogynist says “look at the data”.
Insp Stabler: And only a terrorist says the Prime Minister is lying!
Baldeosingh: Am I going to jail?
Insp Stabler: No. Your punishment will be served in The UWI, where you will learn how socialism is wonderful, how everything was invented in Egypt, and the only books to read are by Wayne Kublalsingh, who by the way can live off only sunlight and Tulsi leaves. That will teach you to spread fake news!
Baldeosingh: No, please just kill me!
Episode 3. The Public Shaming
Insps Benson and Stabler investigate the case of Stephen whose indiscretions were captured on video and uploaded on Facebook to shame him.
Insp Stabler: Stephen, tell us what's on the video. Are you wearing something embarrassing or doing something embarrassing?
Stephen: Yes. I am wearing an Acting Police Commissioner uniform and I am delivering the feature address at the T&T Police Service PoS interfaith prayer celebration.
Insp Benson: It's OK, Stephen. We've all been there.
Stephen: I said with pride, that Port of Spain went 42 days without a murder.
Insp Stabler: Did people online make fun of you? Called you a moron? A nitwit? Said you wouldn't detect a clue if it hit you in the face?
Stephen: They also said my detection rate was puny!
Insp Benson: Don't worry, we will catch these people and teach them that recording public figures saying foolish things and posting it online have serious consequences!
Stephen: You promise?
Insp Benson: Yes. We're not like the ordinary police. We actually catch people.
Insp Stabler: Benson!
Insp Benson: Oh right. Sorry.
Episode 4. Like Me or Else
Insps Benson and Stabler question culture critic and intellectual Raymond R about his enthusiasm on Facebook.
Insp Stabler: Raymond, the Attorney General wants to thank you for supporting the idea of the Facebook Police in your writings.
Raymond R: No problem. Some people just need to have their speech regulated. Not me though. Every Caribbean intellectual knows that's how free speech should work.
Insp Benson: Actually, Raymond, the AG would like you to click “like” on his posts more often.
Raymond R: But what if he posts something I don't like?
Insp Benson: No, you see the Attorney General has removed the 3/5 rule for Facebook. Meaning you have to “like” anything he posts. Or else.
Raymond R: Wait, are you exploiting these new Facebook laws to crack down on individual freedoms and increase state authoritarianism?
Insp Stabler: And if he sends you a Candy Crush invite, for your sake, you better accept it!
Raymond R: What have I done?
The events depicted here are entirely fictional. At least for now.
—Darryn Boodan is
a freelance writer