At first when I saw the Facebook post I thought it was a dark joke. A warning, perhaps, that the States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (or FOSTA) would be used, not only to hurt consensual sex workers always caught up in badly planned anti-trafficking measures, but the average person, too.
Sex workers, of course, haven’t been laughing for a while. They’ve been warning us for a long time of the censorship and demonizing consequences of FOSTA and its fellow bill SESTA (the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act). In fact, while researching these for my own piece, I found it very difficult to find articles not condemning the bills as heavy handed, dangerous, and ineffective.
The irony of course is that I was able to quit survival sex work by becoming a writer. FOSTA and SESTA now threaten to pull that platform out from under me, which would likely, that’s right, push me (and so many other workers who left the industry) back into sex work I/we don’t want to do.
FOSTA and SESTA’s threats will effectively ensure that sex workers are unable to ever quit their job, and will be stigmatized for life. So glad the government cares for our safety, right?
So no, it’s no joke, and immediately it’s coming for the rest of you too. Craigslist has completely wiped their personals section, whether you’re looking for a casual encounter, just platonic, or a missed connection.
The text that pops up when you click on a category is as follows:
“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!”
You know where we’ve seen this sort of “for the public good” censorship of “deviant sex” before?
I immediately checked Tinder to see if they had followed suit, but as of this writing (8:45PM PST, 3/22/2018) Tinder and OkCupid are still online. For how long, though? Reddit banned 4 major groups, not used for advertising, but used to talk about paid sex work (including grey area work like sugar babies) hours after the decision passed. Who is going to be next on the chopping block?
20% of Americans seem to think interracial marriages, legalized just 50 years ago, are morally wrong, according to Newsweek. Support for LGBT folks have also seen a downturn, decreasing from 2016 to 2017. Trump’s election has inspired new, stricter anti-abortion laws. It’s hard not to see Craigslist move to ban personal ads as writing on the wall.
If you think this isn’t a move towards shutting down, not only sex workers, but “sexual deviant relationships” of all kinds (queer, interracial, casual sex, nonmonogamous, etc) then you are naive, my friend.
What are we going to do about it?