Craigslist shuts down personals section amid anti-sex trafficking bill

Turley got 30 years for each charge related to trying to sell his 4-year-old daughter for sex

The closure of Craigslist's personals section comes after a bill was approved in the Senate to tackle online sex trafficking.

HR 1865, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) will subject websites to civil and criminal liability for promoting or facilitating sex work.

Instead, a message pops up saying "any tool or service can be misused". It added that it was "regretfully" taking its personal ads offline, but would hopefully "bring them back some day".

"Responding to a bill passed by Congress, Craigslist has killed its personal ad categories, including "strictly platonic", "women seek women", "women seeking men", "men seeking women", "men seeking men", misc romance" and "casual encounters". Reddit, also fearing FOSTA repercussions closed down several "questionable" subreddits, according to Gizmodo.

FOSTA, which was previously identified as Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), alters portions of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that were created to protect website operators from civil liability for third-party content.

This isn't the first time that Craigslist has removed sections, says Chelsea Reynolds, a professor at California State University who wrote her dissertation on the media portrayal of Craigslist.


Supporters explain it will fight online "brothels" that sell sex, specifically citing sites such as Backpage.com.

Other websites may follow, too, with some suggesting that dating and hookup apps may be at risk for prosecution under sex trafficking laws.

Unable to ensure that its personals section - where people post for platonic or romantic relationships - would be able to oblige, Craigslist was forced to shut it down on its USA website.

He said websites like Craigslist, Backpage and others have always been places where thinly veiled ads for sexual services are posted.

Supporters say the legislation will help curb the growing epidemic of online sex trafficking that often involves children, while opponents argue it could expose tech companies to costly lawsuits and infringe on free speech. Backpage shuttered its adult ads previous year, but many of those ads appear to have migrated to other sections of the site. A victim would need to prove a site had knowingly facilitated sex trafficking to successfully sue the company.

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