Forget rummaging through overstuffed bins at second hand stores, mailing a letter to Dear Abby and waiting weeks for a response, driving around and getting lost in a new city looking for a place to live, or circling the want ads in red hunting for a job, all those things can now be done more quickly and less painfully online, specifically on Craigslist. And until recently Craigslist could also be used in place of driving around seedy parts of town in the dead of night, looking for pleasure or cheap dates. In a word, Craigslist has become a convenient place to find prostitutes. Until recently.
Craigslist announced (to Congress) and has since carried out the shutting down and removal of the “Adult Services” section of their site, the section that was known for being the most productive part of Craigslist services.
Many conservatives opposed the “Adult Services” section on the grounds that it promoted child exploitation and prostitution. Those in favor of protecting the controversial part of Craigslist agree with the dissenters that child exploitation is a negative side effect and should be stopped. However the accusation that it also promotes prostitution happens to also be a point of agreement with supports of the adult segment. The mentality by supporters isn’t one of shock or horror over such an accusation, but more of “why of course, that’s the whole point” in response.
While the “Adult Section” may have been officially removed from the front page of Craigslist, the leopard hasn’t changed its spots, just its name. Blatant solicitations are still available; they are just now not-quite-so-obviously listed under the “Casual Encounters” division. Though there are still unconcealed prostitution ads being posted, the popular site has gotten quicker at removing them (at one point, the free community posting site attempted to regulate the 18+ section by . And keep in mind, that all this does little to hinder the (thinly) veiled ads posted by prostitutes looking for work and those who solicit them, most often found under the “personal ads” section of Craigslist.
Those opposed to Craigslist prostitutes are hailing the front page “censored” black box as a victory, but most believe it will just force the service providers and their customers to become only slightly more creative in their ads and postings. Most will (and have) gone back to using the “personals” section. This makes things more difficult for law enforcement to keep an eye on and distinguish which ones are illegal prostitutes and what ads are posted with the original intent of “personals”. The community website has not made it clear if the removal is permanent, and the “Adult Section” is still available for Craigslist listings outside of the United States.
But those who both offer and search out Craigslist prostitute are beginning to be weary of law enforcement who have begun to pose on both ends of the business deal looking for offenders. Recently, such ads and listings have also begun to carry a new kind of risk when some encounters resulted in violence and death.