Less than a week after the House and Senate passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA), Craigslist shut down its notorious personals section. The company announced the change on their website on Friday: "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."
The personals section was a forum for people seeking relationships, sexual encounters, and the services of sex workers. The bipartisan FOSTA legislation, which passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate and awaits Trump's signature, aims to battle child sex trafficking by making websites responsible for illegal activity conducted through personal pages.
While seemingly good intentioned, some see the legislation as an attack on adult sex workers — who may resort to less regulated websites or street prostitution — or a homophobic jab at the gay and bi men who use the personals for hook-ups.
Some took to Twitter to explain how Craiglist's decision would impact users.
CityVibe and craigslist personals (platforms heavily used by poc and survival sex workers) have already shut down in the wake of #FOSTA and #SESTA
Thousands of people who were already just making ends meet lost their income source OVERNIGHT.
— Vee Chattie (@VeeChattie) March 23, 2018
— Blackstockings.net (@Blackstockingz) March 23, 2018
Can we have a moment of silence to acknowledge importance of Craigslist personals, now gone as a result of bullshit FOSTA bill?
I met boyfriends & also had some great hookups b/c of Craigslist.
For many LGBTQ folk Craigslist personals were a key tool of connection & community pic.twitter.com/dsdlJFJv6G
— Martin “Lick The Bomb” Pfeiffer (@NuclearAnthro) March 24, 2018
A 2017 study showed that when sex workers solicited customers online, female homicide rates dropped dramatically. As New Hampshire congresswoman Elizabeth Edwards put it in a tweet: "Why do you care so much about sex workers' ability to advertise online? Because it keeps them from being murdered."