Classified advertising website Craigslist has closed its dating ads section in the US, in response to a new bill against sex trafficking. The bill states that websites can now be punished for "facilitating" prostitution and sex trafficking. Ads promoting prostitution and child sexual abuse have previously been posted in the "personals" section of Craigslist. In a statement, Craigslist said the new law would "subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties users misuse online personals unlawfully". We can't take such risk without jeopardising all our other services, so we are regretfully taking Craigslist personals offline," it said. It will apply to all states in the US.
Many advocates of Web freedom were convinced that Craigslist hadn't really surrendered. They were certain that the website only appeared to have thrown in the towel last week in its long-running legal battle over the ads that appeared on its pages under the heading "adult services. Surely there had to be another chapter in the contest between one of the most popular sites on the Web and a cadre of some 40 states attorneys general who had loudly demanded that Craigslist remove a category for ads that they said were nothing more than fronts for prostitution? But it turned out to be wishful thinking. It is our sincere hope that law enforcement and advocacy groups will find helpful partners there.
Craigslist may have officially shut down its Erotic Services section in favor of a less prostitution-friendly "Adult" area, but what prostitution did exist on the site is still alive and well. Not only that, but the changes may have made the world's oldest profession a little more dangerous for working girls, at least according to those who do business on the site. The Erotic Services section used to be rife with listings containing nude or semi-nude pics and explicit descriptions of the available services.