March 25, 2018 | Online
Even though many guys use apps like Grindr and Scruff to meet other men online, some still rely on the classic hook-up site Craigslist. If this is you and you live in the US, then your craigslist days are now over.
Yes, the site still lets people post ads about furniture for sale and jobs to fill, but ads for romance or sexual connections are no longer available; as of Friday, the whole "personals" section has been removed from the company's US site.
The change is a direct response to Congress' newly passed Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act
. The legislation, meant to battle online pimping and human trafficking, will have a much broader effect.
The bill expands existing federal criminal law to target online platforms where sex trafficking content appears. Website owners will not be protected by claiming they were unaware their site was being used to promote such activities. And federal prostitution laws will now also apply when the Internet is used to “promote or facilitate prostitution.”
That means that consensual sex workers are now barred from advertising or promoting their services online.
Craigslist explained that the new law subjects "websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully. [...] 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."
The site added: "To the millions of spouses, partners and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!"
Reddit has also removed its escort sub-reddit, citing the same bill.
Sex workers feel this is really an attack on them, and fear it will push them back on the streets or onto less safe sites in the much less regulated dark Web.
“It will absolutely not stop trafficking. It may result in less reports of trafficking, but that helps no one,” said Liara Roux, a sex worker and indie porn director/producer
. “It’s already had an insane chilling effect on online speech, within 24 hours resulting in advertising, safety and harm reduction resources coming down, as well as communities of consensual sex workers being banned from sites like reddit.”
If you did use Craigslist to meet men you can always download a hook-up app or -- GASP! -- step into a gay bar and meet someone face to face. As for escorts and their customers, it's going to be more of a challenge.