We’ve written a lot about Craiglist’s adult services section, and whether or not it should have been shut down. Well at this point it has been, and their loss leaves a big gap in the prostitution market. What does this mean for the state of sex you pay for?
Like with Napster and every other illegal downloading site that came after it, you close one door, and you open five more very large windows. Since Craigslist shuttered its adult …
… services, Village Voice Media’s site Backpage.com has seen significant increases in traffic (though a look at the site shows that the adult photos section is “under review”). But they’re running into the same problems Craiglist had; allegations that teen prostitution is occurring under their watch. The site was sued in September by a teenager who says that at the age of 14, she was prostituted by a woman who advertised her photo. The argument, much like the claims brought against Craigslist, is that by not intervening in clearly illegal activity, these sites are also libel.
I’ve written recently about seeking relationships online, and the new steps that both individuals and websites have taken to protect themselves from legal action. The question remains: Who is responsible, the individual or the company, when horrible instances such as the infamous Craigslist killer, occur. Backstage is taking steps to distance itself from the activities of the people using their services, but it’s unlikely that it will last for long. Ultimately, Craigslist’s long-term legacy will probably not be its adult services section, but Missed Connections. It’s those amazing stories of searching for someone you barely made eye contact with on the bus that one time, in the hopes that you’ll live a long and prosperous life together, that make people go back to the internet again and again. Prostitution will always be around, though what website or pimp is making money off it will always have to change as it skirts the law. And what will also change is our tolerance for these activities, in whatever medium they take.