Craigslist announced Friday that it removed personal ads – a popular, albeit potentially dangerous service – from its regional websites following the passage of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) in Congress.
FOSTA, or H.R. 1865, repealed a previous law that provided “legal protection to websites that unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and websites that facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims.”
While Craigslist’s personal ads were often filled with legitimate postings and “casual encounters,” the website was scrutinized over the past decade for serving as a platform to sex trafficking. In 2010, an exposé detailed how Craigslist’s adult section was an epicenter of sex slavery.
In a statement Friday following FOSTA’s near-ratification – the bill awaits President Donald Trump’s signature – Craigslist wrote: “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.”
FOSTA also imposed stronger penalties on those who “promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person,” as well as also punishing those “knowingly assisting” in sex trafficking. In addition to Craigslist’s closure, a handful of Reddit subreddits that provided similar services have also shut down, Ars Technica reports.
“To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness,” Craigslist added. At press time, the subsections in Craiglist’s personals section, including the “strictly platonic” and basic dating services, now link to the company’s FOTSA statement.