Responding to a bill passed by Congress, Craigslist has killed its personal ad categories, including “strictly platonic,” “women seek women,” “women seeking men,” “men seeking women,” “men seeking men,” misc romance” and “casual encounters.”
While the categories still appeared on the organization’s website Friday, they linked to the following message:
“U.S. Congress just passed HR 1865, ‘FOSTA’, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully. Any tool or service can be misused. 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. To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!”
WND reported this week on the Senate’s adoption of the bill, which followed the House approval of H.R. 1865.
Supporters explain it will fight online “brothels” that sell sex, specifically citing sites such as Backpage.com.
A statement from the White House said it is a step “to end modern slavery in all of its forms.”
“The president and his entire administration are firmly committed to holding those who participate in these horrific crimes accountable, and look forward to continued work with these stakeholders in order to put an end to this scourge.”
One supporter of the legislation said the newlaw battles sites that “knowingly exploit women and children for financial gain by serving as a brothel for online advertisements for traffickers and pimps.”
Donna Rice Hughes, president and CEO of the activist organization Enough is Enough, said the 97-2 Senate vote was a “critical step toward draining the cyberswamp of commercial sexploitation.”
“Enough Is Enough (EIE) commends the U.S. Senate for its leadership on this historic bill following a multi-year pursuit for justice which is nothing short of a David and Goliath victory against the multibillion dollar trafficking industry and the tech giants’ who lobbied against the bill’s passage,” she said.
“Once signed into law, survivors and state prosecutors will have the legal tools to successfully pursue civil and criminal actions against websites like Backpage.com who have knowingly allowed for the buying and selling of women and children for sex online while making millions of dollars in profits.”
She explained that Senate subpoenas showed that executives at Backpage.com were complicit in facilitating sex trafficking, “having gone so far as to coach traffickers on how to get away with their crimes and avoid prosecution by editing out words like ‘cheerleader,’ ‘little girl’ and ‘school girl’ from its online advertisements.”
She called the 388-25 vote in the House “historic” and said the plan “sends a strong message to federal courts who have for far too long misinterpreted Congress’s original intent of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, allowing such websites to be shielded from claims of sex trafficking victims while profiting to the tune of millions.”
The bill would change a foundational Internet law, allowing prosecutors and sex-trafficking victims to overcome a presumption of immunity for websites that host third-party content.
The bill removes immunity for Web platforms if the site operators violate a state law against “promotion or facilitation of prostitution.”
The White House statement said: “President Donald J. Trump applauds the Senate for passing H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act. This bipartisan piece of legislation takes an important step forward in fighting the despicable act of human trafficking. The legislation empowers federal, state, and local prosecutors to hold websites accountable for supporting the sale of sex trafficking victims.”
Hughes said the landmark legislation fulfills a promise by Trump, who as a candidate in 2016 signed EIE’s Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge “in which he promised to advance public policies and provide law enforcement with the resources and tools needed to investigate and prosecute Internet crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children.”
The Hill reported Reddit also announced new rules about posts regarding paid sex.