The creators of Craigslist agreed on Thursday to "crack down" on erotic services ads posted on the site.
According to several published reports, Craigslist, under pressure from 40 different states and U.S. territories, will now require people posting an erotic services ad to pay a fee with a credit card and list a valid phone number. That information will be available to law enforcement agencies requesting it with a subpoena.
In June, the RFT published "OldestProfession2.0," which looked at several different outlets for prostitutes on the Internet, including Craigslist.
An except from that story:
Stacey Swimme says many women use Craigslist as a jumping-off point into prostitution. The anonymity the site affords users, coupled with the fact that it's free, popular and easy to use, combine to render it about as close as America currently comes to the decriminalization of sex work.
"I think of Craigslist as training wheels," says Swimme. "When a girl wants to work in the sex industry, she ought to able to contact a local union and ask, 'What kind of materials do I need? What training do I need?' Since that's not available, Craigslist is the easiest way."
It was the lack of resources for women starting out in the field that spurred Amanda Brooks, a Dallas-based former call girl, to author her Internet Escort's Handbook.
"Craigslist is generally people who haven't really studied the business, so they end up taking a lot of risks," Brooks says when reached by phone. "Often they don't screen [their customers], which is very unsafe, and the men who surf Craigslist generally aren't your better clients. And police have been busting girls on there ever since it started."
Most of the people interviewed for that story, including several call girls and johns, echoed Brooks' criticism of the the red light section of the popular classified site, calling it a haven for scam artists, cops, and amateurs.
In fact, Swimme, co-founder of the Desiree Alliance, a national sex workers rights group whose site is linked at the top of every erotic services page, predicted that majority of escorts would soon abandon Craigslist for popular members-only sites like BigDoggie, myRedBook, and The Erotic Review.
"It’s a new evolution we’ve been seeing in last four or five years," Swimme said in a quote that didn’t make the published version of the story. "People in general are just more web savvy and are turning to the Internet for solutions and to answer a lot of economic questions."
Regardless, news of the new regulations seems to have already impacted the local Erotic Services listings.
As of late Friday afternoon there were only a few dozen posts, compared to the hundreds that were listed each day earlier in the week.