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That's why sites are scrambling right now to prohibit any content that could get them held liable. Department of Justice has urged against passing FOSTA, calling it unconstitutional and saying that it would make prosecuting sex traffickers harder.
It's probably too late, or at least would be if legislators get their way. "You're heading in the wrong direction if you [pass a bill] that would raise the burden of proof in cases against sex traffickers," said Oregon Sen. Wyden—who co-authored Section 230—was the only Democrat to vote against the bill, and Kentucky Sen. An amendment to FOSTA proposed by Wyden would have clarified that websites can try to filter out illegal content without increasing their liability, but it was overwhelmingly defeated.
FOSTA will "subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully," Craigslist explains in the brief notice that now appears in place of potential partners if you try to go to a personals listing .
Under current law, the site can't be held legally liable if someone uses veiled terms to solicit commercial sex—aka prostitution—through the Craigslist personals.
Reddit said the purge was enforcing its new content policy, which bans "transactions for certain goods and services," including "paid services involving physical sexual contact." But frequenters of these subreddits say they were forums for sex-work news, tips, questions, and camaraderie, not places where sex workers advertised their services.
This failure to distinguish between ads for prostitution and any discussion of prostitution is part of what has sex workers (and free-speech advocates) so worried.
For promoting the prostitution of five or more people, the penalty is 25 years, and the same if promoting someone's prostitution "contributed to sex trafficking." Sex workers don't have to worry about being punished for posting their own ads, but they could run afoul of the law if working in pairs or helping a colleague place an ad.
For countless folks who came of age in the 00s, finding a partner via the Craigslist personals section was a rite of passage.I remember pouring over the ads with friends, amazed at the sheer variety of sexual and romantic asks and desires out there, the strange and tantalizing mix of anonymity and eros and possibility.I brokered my best ongoing "casual encounter" through the Craigslist personals.I know others who met long-term partners and even spouses that way.But as of Friday, the Craigslist personals section is no more.