Craigslist may have officially shut down its Erotic Services section in favor of a less prostitution-friendly "Adult" area, but what prostitution did exist on the site is still alive and well.
Not only that, but the changes may have made the world's oldest profession a little more dangerous for working girls, at least according to those who do business on the site. The Erotic Services section used to be rife with listings containing nude or semi-nude pics and explicit descriptions of the available services.
To those who have ever seen it—or the back of practically any local magazine over the last several decades—it's obvious that these listings ultimately amount to the exchange of money for sexual gratification. The new " adult " section link NSFW barely changes this.
A quick browse through the adult section in the Chicago area shows that prostitution listings are still widely available, just with more vague, toned-down language and PG images. The ladies and men, when you can find them who post listings here are still trying to play by the new rules despite the illegality of their profession.
We confirmed with one provider who calls herself Maureen that her "erotic massage" services listed in Adult is really just a code for a whole menu of sex acts.? Maureen says that there aren't any real checks in place under the new system—Craigslist merely charges more per listing and takes longer to post them to the site. Maureen has bigger things to worry about than Craigslist forcing her to change her wording, however. It has changed the type of clients from businessmen to back down to the blue collar worker that you can't really count on.
That hasn't stopped Maureen and other providers from posting, though. For those who don't want to play by the rules, a spin into Casual Encounters a part of the site for boring old plebes like you and me to hook up shows that other prostitutes have merely moved their offers for "french lessons" and the like to the free, unmoderated part of the site.
Let's put it this way: if you find a listing that mentions services in exchange for roses, you should plan on dropping by the ATM, not the flower store, before meeting up. In the end, the change's lack of real impact suggests that the legal posturing over Craigslist and prostitution is more about PR and less about actually reducing prostitution or keeping anyone safe.
Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster recently pointed out that the site has been working hard to come to an agreeable solution with law enforcement while other sites have been running willy nilly with their obvious prostitutionyet almost percent of the legal threats have been towards Craigslist alone. And, even then, the prostitutes are still finding ways around the new restrictions—rules be damned.
A random not Maureen's listing from Craigslist's new Adult section. Jacqui Cheng Jacqui is an Editor at Large at Ars Technica, where she has spent the last eight years writing about Apple culture, gadgets, social networking, privacy, and more. jacqui arstechnica.
Channel Ars Technica. ZIP: