David Kobia, part of the team behind Ushahidi, is the creator of one of the most widely used Kenyan forums: Mashada. I just got an email from him that is rather disappointing:
As you may already know, I’ve been having quite a problem regulating Mashada.com, despite having recently hired people to moderate the forums. It is starting to become a reflection of what is going on on the ground in Kenya. I’d hate for it to hinder our current efforts since I’m directly connected to it, therefore I’m having to shut down the forums until further notice. Facilitating civil discussions and debates has become virtually impossible.
The post-election violence in Kenya is horrible. Most of the people who use Mashada are part of the Kenyan diaspora based in the US and Europe, but also a healthy amount from Kenya. So, the vast majority of people using it are seeing and hearing about the atrocities happening to their friends and family and are rightfully upset.
However, that does not excuse the rampant and vitriolic discussions that have been taking place online. Choosing to resort to verbal thuggery, taunts and threats is not the answer.
It is disappointing to watch the devolution of life in Kenya, but to see it being mirrored online by Kenyans around the world makes it even worse.
I understand the frustration. I get that. What I don’t get is how any of the people involved think that this will make anything better.
We can do better than this. We can be better.