Technology

Other Web Sites Pick Up Craigslist Sex Ads

| by Reason Foundation

By Jacob Sullum

As Radley Balko noted this morning, Craigslist now says its "adult services" section is gone for good. But as William Clinton Powell,

Craigslist's director of customer and law enforcement relations, explained in congressional testimony yesterday, that just means Blumenthalian bluenoses will move on to new targets:

"Craigslist discontinued its adult services section on Sept. 3, 2010, and there are no plans to reinstate the category," Mr. Powell said. "Those who formerly posted ads in the adult services category will now have to advertise elsewhere, and in fact there is evidence that this process began immediately."

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Traffic to Backpage.com, a classifieds site run by Village Voice Media, has sharply spiked this month, according to reports from two firms that measure Web traffic, Alexa and Compete, that [a Craigslist attorney] provided to the committee....

Backpage and the many other sites that post prostitution ads, often disguised as body rubs or escort services, are maneuvering to get a bigger share of the business now that Craigslist is out of the game, said Peter M. Zollman, founding principal of the AIM Group.

Advocacy groups and attorneys general have said they focused on Craigslist because it is widely known and has a big business in sex ads, but will now go after other sites as well. "We must broaden the focus beyond Craigslist and urge every online classified site to take action," [said Ernie Allen, chief executive of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children].

But once Backpage.com and all of its competitors (including those based in other countries) close their "adult" sections under pressure from bullying busybodies without a legal leg to stand on, that will definitely be it for online sex selling, and prostitutes finally can go back to the streets, where they belong.