Craigslist took down their Erotic Services section five days ago and though that section is still not accessible its enthusiasts have simply relocated to their city’s respective Casual Encounters section. Mind you, this was in the pursuit of journalism (but still, don’t tell my lady): I went out for a quick smoke (don’t tell my old lady about that either), busted out my Nexus One and fired up my city’s Casual Encounters section on Craigslist to see what’s doing and can report to you that the first seven out of eight posts in a row were prostitution ads – and they weren’t even thinly-veiled. And the eighth post? It was a man with unique tastes in search of a prostitute for services the specificity of which, … let’s just say I can’t even paint you a vague picture for you on our website.
This is all I found, red light district activity with no sign, not one post, of two adults just wanting to encounter each other casually to see what happens with their evening as you might theoretically expect in a section called Casual Encounters. Craigslist didn’t tell people to pack up their bags and move on over. Anyone with a drop of intuition would have gone to the same place I did rather than to Google to track down another source of tang or an avenue of tang distribution.
The politicians muscled Craigslist first into manually policing and approving each Erotic Services post, locking down poster’s credit cards and phone numbers before allowing them to post. Craigslist made an aggressive and honest effort to crack down on this. But that wasn’t good enough and they caved to the pressure to wipe it out entirely. As a result, rather than putting a dent in prostitution and exploitation of young women and all that jazz, the political pressure resulting in the caving has resulted in a removal of such policing, identity securing and screening as that was isolated to the erotic section. Based on what I just saw it appears that Craigslist is now an even better broker of illicit carnal transactions. In other words, if there has been any net effect from the right wing over this mess it has benefited these cash-only business transactions in addition to Craigslist who is no longer committed to sifting through these posts day and night to screen them.
Right now the only protections from this decadence is a EULA-like warning that you have to be eighteen to proceed and the ability for users to red flag posts which of course doesn’t happen, not much, because people have better things to do than going on a site to whack-a-mole naughty ads, or people presented with such a red flag option have a conflict of interest as they are either in search of a hooker to patronize or a John to service. There’s law enforcement but without much political interest over the matter I don’t see them devoting nearly as much time into laying on their sting in a seemingly-innocently-titled classifieds section. Those politicians perhaps could lead an effort to clean up the classifieds both on Craigslist and everywhere else but what’s in it for them at this point? They got their victory, as hollow as it has turned out to have become in reality. Almost like the brown paper bag to drink your malt liquor in public. Still illegal but not enforced.