After Craigslist personals go dark, sex workers find new sites

By Michael Nedelman, CNN

Craigslist is, Backpage was an online classifieds site, divided by city or geographic area, through which users advertise a range of goods, services, jobs and housing.

“Any tool or service can be misused,” Craigslist says in a statement that appears when users click on its personals link. “We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking Craigslist personals offline.”

The company did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

Limited information exists on the number of sex workers in the United States, including illegal acts of prostitution. According to the 2016 General Social Survey, 2% of women and 11.2% of men have ever paid or received money for sex after turning 18. Many definitions of sex work include a broader variety of services beyond prostitution, such as “erotic performances.” 

We’re already marginalized. We’re already criminalized in so many more ways.

Facilitating prostitution and money laundering led Backpage to shut down its adult ads section. The site was seized by federal law enforcement agencies

Roughly 6,000 sex trafficking cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline last year. Websites like Facebook and Twitter who are knowingly facilitating trafficking should be worried about this bill.

In 2009, Craigslist began manually screening ads at the behest of several state attorneys general, concerned that the site was promoting prostitution. The following year, under similar pressure, the company removed its “adult services” section, replacing it with the word “censored.” 

Gizmodo reports the shutdown includes Craigslist’s dating sections-men seeking women, women seeking men, men seeking men, and women seeking women-plus miscellaneous romance and the infamous “casual encounters” section. Oddly enough, Craigslist also shut down the “strictly platonic” page. At first, Twitter users lamented that it applied to the missed connections section, which is a gold mine for fascinating (and perhaps sometimes fictional) Internet stories, but as of Friday morning that section appeared to be available.

When you try to access the personals section, you now get taken to a statement from Craigslist:

“U.S. Congress just passed HR 1865, “FOSTA”, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully. Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day. To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!”

Supporters for the law, including Ivanka Trump, say the law will help fight sex trafficking and make sure victims get the justice they deserve.

But Motherboard reports that opponents say that the law could make sex workers and trafficking victims less safe, getting rid of methods to screen new clients online and shutting down forums where they can warn one another of potential threats. And the Electronic Frontier Foundation warned it was a “significant rollback” for online speech, because sites could be penalized for unknowingly hosting that kind of content, and others could shut down for fear of a legal crackdown. For now, at least, one of the Internet’s most old-school dating forums is no more.

Much of Backpage’s traffic simply moved to a new website called FBSM reviews. 

Backpage Alternatives (over 60 websites that offer escort listings)

How to beat any prostitution sting (10 easy steps to spot-stay ahead of LE)

FBSM Reviews (escort reviews and verified post. No cops, no stings and no bad dates. All post are verified as being honest and reputable.)

How to De Criminalize Prostitution for Dummies

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