As SESTA heads to the White House, Craigslist shut down its personals ads to avoid potential criminal charges under the new bill.

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Craigslist shuts down its personals section, blaming ‘sex-trafficking’ bill

First Reddit, now Craigslist—which site will be next?


Ana Valens


Posted on Mar 23, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 8:48 pm CDT

Yesterday, activists and sex workers warned on social media that Reddit is cracking down on subreddits after the controversial “sex-trafficking” bill SESTA (also known as FOSTA) passed in the Senate. Now, Craigslist is fearing repercussions of the bill as well, with the site indefinitely removing its entire personals section.

Craigslist released an official statement directly referencing the bill, warning that SESTA subjects websites “to criminal and civil liability” when users “misuse online personals unlawfully.” Craigslist would jeopardize its existence if the personals section remained online, the site explained, so the page was taken down.

“Any tool or service can be misused,” Craigslist wrote. “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.”

Craigslist is practically synonymous with both romantic and sexual classifieds, and consensual sex workers regularly obtain new clients through the site. Even outside of sex work, the site’s personals section was a regular spot for meeting new people for hookups, dates, or even platonic hangouts. But that also means any of the site’s personals sections could be misused for sex trafficking, which would hold Craigslist liable for criminal charges once SESTA becomes law.

Suffice to say, Twitter is furious with the section’s removal.

Other websites may follow, too, with some suggesting that dating and hookup apps may be at risk for prosecution under sex trafficking laws.

Craigslist isn’t the only website that removed its personals section after SESTA passed in the Senate. Adult dating website CityVibe closed its doors yesterday, and the Erotic Review shut down its U.S. adult ads section “pending further review of the recent law and its outcome.”

H/T Melissa Gira Grant

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*First Published: Mar 23, 2018, 2:24 pm CDT