back to article This time, it's personals: Craigslist dumps lonely-hearts section, blames anti-trafficking laws

Craigslist has axed its personals ad section after US Congress passed an anti-sex-trafficking law. Bosses at the California-headquartered classified ads board said they will be subject to legal action under the new law if or when the hookup section of the website is used by human traffickers to advertise sex work. They don't …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So is this the Craigslist that allegedly hosted ads for child sex slaves and did nothing about it or a different one?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "So is this the Craigslist that allegedly hosted ads for child sex slaves [...]"

    Which should have made it easy for law enforcement to get to the people behind such trade. Now they can say "we can't see any potentially illegal activity - move along".

    Then they will have to go back to street corner tip-offs and trying to penetrate the Dark Web.

  3. Roland6 Silver badge

    They could always operate the Personal section from a legal entity and host located outside of the USA, linking to it via the usual disclaimers you see when you get redirected to an external site.

    1. Donn Bly

      re: outside the USA

      Perhaps you missed the article earlier this week when it was revealed that the US has now codified its longstanding practice of ignoring borders when it comes to websites and data storage, so that it doesn't run into a situation again like it did with Microsoft when it demanded that MS turn over the data stored in Ireland without asking Ireland for permission first.

  4. Donn Bly

    Chilling Effects

    This law is scary stupid. The way it reads, they could go after any US assets of Mozilla because it "facilitates" access to prostitution because the Firefox web browser was used

    Yes, prostitutes and their pimps posted ads on Craigslist just like they do everywhere else that allows users to post unvetted ads. On Craigslist users would flag them so they would be taken down within hours of them going up (or their competitors would do so in order to reduce competition). The system worked. Now the traffickers will just move to other sections (professional services? domestic labor?) -- until those sections will go away too.

    Unless things change, this law has many chilling effects on unmoderated user-generated content. With this one exemption to the liability shield they have effectively gutted all of the protections.

    All someone has to do is create a sockpuppet account, post a fake ad, and the entire site can be taken down with the operators in jail.

    The first time they use this law to take down a site, every free classified site in the US will go dark shortly afterwards.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chilling Effects

      Oh please.

      I use other forums that are (in)famous for unfettered free speech, and even they have moderators to police the most obnoxious morons and the occasional pedo. Even the *chans have mods. If these sites you speak of can't afford to do the same, they don't have a viable business model.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Re: Chilling Effects

        There's no shield though, and no time limit. One troll posts a false listing, reports it to the FBI, and the site gets shut down, and any US parties are at high risk of arrest.

        Get everyone to report some congressmen after you've backed their Facebook pages and hidden a backdated post, ok?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Chilling Effects

          This isn't the UK. There's nothing to fear unless you intentionally violate the intent of the law. The troll, on the other hand, could be prosecuted for harrassment, falsely reporting a crime, etc.

          Facebook, and certainly Instagram, would have shut down already if there was any basis for this fearmongering.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just checked the East Anglia Craigslist and those sections are still there, just renamed and moved slightly.

    Perhaps the removal is US-only or it's a phased worldwide rollout. Apparently Craigslist brought in mobile phone verification last year as a means of eradicating spam and scams, so perhaps this is just the logical next step.

    But Craigslist did have a reputation for being a law unto itself and ignoring subpoenas and reasonable law enforcement queries, so perhaps this is karma.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Despite America's idea that their laws don't respect national boundaries, I don't think Congress has much reach in East Anglia (at least, outside the airbases).

      Given how many american cities are named after english ones, I wonder if some unusual phone numbers will turn up in the cragslist entries for Boston, Lincs; Washington, Tyne & Wear; Norfolk; etc.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Damn

    Welp, there goes my last source of "dating".

    Guess I'm going to have to find somewhere else now :-(.

    1. shedied

      Re: Damn

      Double damn.

      Far too many dick pics, and nowhere to send them, on craigslist.

      Where is a US senator to go? What should I tell my therapist? Let me see if he can help me out here. Hmmmm, what's this button on the phone for...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FOR RENT 1990 Model year "car"

    Made in eastern Europe.

    Sleek and beautiful.

    Low mileage, as far as you know.

    Available by the hour, or all night.

    Also ready for final sale.

    Call 1-888-IMNOTACTUALLYACAR

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FOR RENT 1990 Model year "car"

      I sure hope you aren’t a victim of trafficking...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FOR RENT 1990 Model year "car"

      When I moved into Hendon in the 1970s I consulted the small ads for some cheap furnishings. Every week there was an ad. that went, with variations, "For sale: 36" chest with rose pink decorations, £5, phone....."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder

    Anytime I open up Pornhub or the like - for research purposes - I get something along the line of:

    "Message from Hot Mom69 2.7 miles away"

    Those, well, they seem pretty much what this law is supposed to screen. Are they going away? No great loss, I'd say.

    On Tinder, POF etc... you see the occasional "message me hotmilf69@gmail" profile but they usually don't last.

    Has this law been thought through? I'd have thought the website should display a wilful tolerance of prostitution posts (a word ignored by iOS autocomplete btw) to be held liable.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      Has this law been thought through?

      Yes very carefully. How can anyone object to laws fighting sex-trafficking?

      That's why we also need to ban anonymous email addresses, and VPNs and free wifi - because of terrorism sex-trafficking

      1. Richard Jukes

        Re: I wonder

        Sure you dont mean child sex trafficking narco terrorists?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: I wonder

          Sure you dont mean child sex trafficking narco terrorists?

          Illegal Immigrant cyber muslim North Korean ones?

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      "Message from Hot Mom69 2.7 miles away"

      She's always 2.7 miles away, even if a 2.7 mile radius circle centred on your house goes through nothing but fields.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: I wonder

        She's always 2.7 miles away,

        She's stalking you

  9. TonyJ Silver badge

    This'll backfire

    I am sure it's been shown (I'd need to check to be sure) that the uptick in women using the internet to peddle their wares were very much safer than when they had to do the same thing on dark streets.

    This seems a crazy step backwards and will achieve what, exactly?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: This'll backfire

      will achieve what, exactly?

      Get you an approval rating from the US equivalent of Mumsnet / Daily Mail / WI when you run for re-election.

      Allow you to brand your political opponents as promoters of child sex trafficking

      Provide the first step to banning anonymous comments, then anonymous use of the internet

  10. WolfDancer2015

    UK Craigslist

    Looks like the UK version of Craigslist has also been taken offline. HAve been a regular user of the personal section for years. No notice, but as of 2 weeks ago nearly all references come up with 404 errors.

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