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Wed Mar 28 2018 09:56:46

A Seismic Shift as Craigslist Shuts Down Personals

By: Bob

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Craigslist made the momentous decision to close its Personals section. AuctionBytes blogger Bob takes a look at what's behind the move, and while readers will have differing opinions about the consequences, one thing's for sure - the Internet will never be the same!

Are you a lonely widow looking for a mate to spend your twilight years with? Are you a gym rat looking for an exercise partner? Or are you a virile young couple searching for another virile young couple to share cookouts, concerts and (*ahem*) carnal knowledge with?

Well if you are M4W, M4M, W4M, W4W, MW4M, MW4W, M4T, T4MW or practically any other combination of capital letters, you won't be able to rely on Craigslist any longer as a fast and free way to hook up with others.

This is because Congress recently passed, and the White House looks ready to sign; H.R. 1865, which "imposes penalties - a fine, a prison term of up to 10 years, or both - on a person who, using a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce, owns, manages, or operates an interactive computer service (or attempts or conspires to do so) to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person." I'm no lawyer (thank you) but it sounds like sites like Craigslist could be accused, fined and its operators jailed as pimps. No matter that they gained no real financial benefit from the transactions and regardless of how much effort they put into monitoring and discouraging the behavior on their site! (Please read those last couple sentences again, they are as important as they are scary).

The law also encourages civil suits aimed at these so-considered virtual-pimps.

Reliable sources tell me (because, of course, I have no firsthand knowledge of this) that the Personals section was rarely ... no, um ... occasionally ... nope, nope ... okay ... regularly, frequently, quite often or otherwise routinely used as an outlet for (egad!) sex worker ads. Primarily by women seeking "donations" for a half-hour of their time (I'm not exactly sure what the extra 28 minutes is for).

This new law is aimed at sex trafficking, though the definition of this is highly debatable.

Given Congress's approval of this bill, Craigslist chose to quickly delete its entire Personals section. They discontinued everything from Strictly Platonic to Casual Encounters while they moved the Missed Connections and its notorious Rants & Raves section into the Community subsection. Overkill? Perhaps. Was this what Congress wanted and expected? Probably not though who knows what in hell they're thinking up there (down there?) nowadays.

There may well be other unintended consequences with this measure. Imagine owning any website where the public is allowed to post. How confident would you now feel that absolutely none of your users were using your platform for this sort of illegal activity? Could sites like Facebook, Match.com and PayPal also be impacted? Could Craigslist still be charged because a sex worker uses their site to sell their talents under the Skilled Trade, Barter or Activities sections? 

Will sex workers be forced out onto the street (both dangerous for them and unattractive for their communities)? Will low-income men and women be forced deeper into poverty? And what about all the vice cops that used Craigslist to attract and arrest johns and pros alike? And how will they conduct stings going forward?

The summary of the bill can be found here.

This is the notice that Craigslist posted about this issue:

"US 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!"

About the Columnist
Bob has been buying and selling online for almost 20 years. Some experts claim that his limited budget was the major cause of the 2001 dot-com crash. He denies the charge.



Comments (18) | Permalink

Readers Comments

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by: geoffreymason This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 28 11:40:19 2018

There goes my sex life.

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by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 28 19:18:12 2018

Certainly gonna hurt a segment of the underground economy until they get themselves reorganized and find a new home.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Thu Mar 29 00:17:37 2018

The courts will have to sort all this out, but Craig's List was smart to eliminate Personals until there is clear definition.

What about all those 4 am toll free number TV commercials that also have websites?

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by: angryllama This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 29 03:31:12 2018

Interesting that you INCLUDED PayPal in that litany of potential unintended victims of this situation.
About 2 years ago PayPal started including a SHOPPING LOCAL OPTION to highlight Nearby businesses that accepted PayPal.  It ranked those by DISTANCE from the customer (me).  I did a quick search and in the first 25 mixed in with Insurance Salesmen, Roofers, Plumbers, and such were THREE ads that were Very THINLY Veiled invites to spend time with Semi-Pro Hookers within a MILE of my suburban home.  YEOW.  Puts me in mind of a Hard To Prove premise I read years back that the island of Manhattan has at LEAST one bordello for each BLOCK of the island.  That HAS to be an exaggeration or at least a conflation of including the RESIDENCE Street Address of Pros no matter if no "commerce" takes place there on a regular basis.  Makes me wonder if Las Vegas is envious of that Back East situation.

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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 29 10:05:17 2018

What a stupid bill.

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by: ib30667 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 29 11:54:46 2018

@geoffreymason LMAO!! :D

I think Craigslist is just covering their ass.
I use Craigslist all the time, but I never go their personals section. Sketchy stuff going on there...just sayin.

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by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 29 16:37:23 2018

This is both good and bad. The bad is that the government is completely over reaching. While I would never ever ever consider hiring the services of a prostitute I still feel the government has no right to interfere the a decision made by two consenting adults.  Paying a hooker might be a bit more direct but probably no different then someone taking someone out to a high dollar restaurant and having "expectations" for later.

Then there are all the 1000's of human trafficking victims rescued, pedophile arrests, pimp arrests,  though stings. These are some seriously bad people that was taken off the streets. Forcing prostitution back underground may make it much harder to save victims and arrest the serious offenders.

The good is pretty self explanatory because it will probably curb transfer of STDs and STIs and the soccer moms and religious nuts can pat themselves on the back for a job well done spreading their version of morality.

All in all though they will just move to another venue or message boards. Or end up advertising on the dark web or something. The will is strong so they will find a way.

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by: songe-d-automne This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 29 21:54:15 2018

AWWWW. I got all my Big Y love story reading from there!

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by: thebobman This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 30 00:22:38 2018

CL wasn't very popular in my area for dating. I got a couple replies, but most of the posts seems to be a come-on to visit a website.

Wasn't there those TV ads back in the 80's that weren't exactly like they seemed? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWAMCEp0b_I

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This user has validated their user name. by: DeathFromAbove

Fri Mar 30 01:32:13 2018

Yeah - it's definitely issues like these that keep me from sleeping at night.  It's a good thing congress focuses on the real pressing issues of the day to make life better for everyone.  Not guns, human rights, housing cost, transportation, manufacturing, or the amazon near-monopoly ruining the retail economy, but internet personals - that have been in existence, and doing the same thing for over 20 years?  What?

People that would go here, will just resort to illicit or nefarious methods to do the same thing.  People have been doing these 'activities' since recorded history - so now these old walking corpses in congress from bygone times that should have retired 30 years ago, really think they are going to be able to stop or prevent anything?  

Then trump must feel a bit odd if he signs off on this - as he has basically been doing the same thing through different channels, for his entire adult life.  Hypocritical.

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by: Ichabod This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 30 01:34:57 2018

Speaking of prostitutes and whores, aren't there several hundred of those working in DC? I can think of about 535 of them right off the top of my head. They may wear suits and speak in all sorts of pompous language but they are prostitutes nonetheless. They sell themselves and their votes to the Insurance industry, the banking industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the corporations and the defense contractors, etc., etc. etc. etc. Do as we day, not as we do.  

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by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 30 02:38:06 2018

I see a lots of sex peddlers on Twitter. See very few on Facebook. I ignore or block them.  

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by: frustrated This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 30 07:40:50 2018

Amen Ichabod

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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 30 08:29:42 2018

WHAT??? Craigslist has hookers? Who knew?

kidding - actually when they started showing up in droves I quit using the danged site which was quite a long time ago. They made themselves skankey long before the bill came up.

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by: treasure_searcher This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 30 10:14:30 2018

I don't see why the Platonic section on Craigslist should be shut down. This is about peoples lives, and they post there comments on problems in their lives, and people can respond with help for them or any comment that will soothe or help the person. I met a wonderful guy on the platonic section. We are now very good friends, and at my age of 73, after loosing my husband of 48 yrs. I am a lucky lady. I have know him now for 3 years, he is kind, helpful and wonderful. Being a retired policeman of 64, I can say I am glad that I met him, he is very protective, and I can sleep well now that I have met him. I thank God everyday that I met him on Craigslist Platonic Section. Why get rid of this section, isn't this a free world with free speech? Very concerned.

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by: geoffreymason This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 30 12:45:54 2018

In addition to the "prostitutes and whores" in DC, don't forget the ones in San Jose.

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by: dander This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 30 19:42:19 2018

More nanny government. I agree with ming, better to get out of this if I was Craigslist.I also agree that this will just cause a certain segment to go deeper underground. why is it anyone's business if she sells her body?

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by: Jim Y This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Sun Apr 8 12:07:34 2018

Craigslist was being smart to do this because they probably know that once the U.S. Government accuses someone of doing something wrong, they will go after them full force and they are automatically right. The constitution goes out the window and you are guilty no matter what.



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