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“People who trade sex are so stigmatized and so criminalized and so cut out of the discussion,” D’Adamo said.
Craigslist announced Friday that it removed personal ads – a popular, albeit potentially dangerous service – from its regional websites following the passage of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) in Congress. In 2010, an exposé detailed how Craigslist’s adult section was an epicenter of sex slavery.
Annamarya Scaccia Shortly after the legislation passed through Congress, Craigslist shut down its personals section, and Reddit removed several subreddits related to sex work. Sex workers who have been kicked off platforms are now being pushed into physical, more criminalized spaces—such as truck stops, street corners, and so-called red-light districts—where police may be patrolling and doing sting operations.
For sex workers, watching websites serving as their main source for work close because of government action is nothing new.
In the federal government’s view, these “tactics”—which included pressuring credit card companies to sever ties with Backpage—were necessary in order to shut down online vehicles for sex traffickers to prey on children and girls. Senate passed S 1693, better known as the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA)—a controversial piece of legislation that broadly expands prosecutorial power over tech companies often used by sex workers for their business.“It was very disheartening to see how fast different websites and platforms were self-censoring before it’s even become a law,” Maxine Holloway, a Bay Area sex worker, activist, sex educator, artist, and filmmaker, told Rewire. Survivors Against SESTA, a coalition of former and current sex workers, has been documenting the tech sector’s response to the controversial bill since it passed the Senate two weeks ago.So far, the coalition has logged at least 18 platforms, including Craigslist and Reddit, that have either shut down, closed verticals or forums, or changed their policies on transactions, content, and language in that time. 1865, repealed a previous law that provided “legal protection to websites that unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and websites that facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims.” While Craigslist’s personal ads were often filled with legitimate postings and “casual encounters,” the website was scrutinized over the past decade for serving as a platform to sex trafficking.In a statement Friday following FOSTA’s near-ratification – the bill awaits President Donald Trump’s signature – Craigslist wrote: “Any tool or service can be misused.