As Expected, Prostitutes Move Elsewhere After Craigslist Change

from the good-job-doing-nothing dept

We pointed out how little sense it made for various state attorneys general to force Craigslist to charge for the “erotic services” group. It would appear that at least 40 states’ attorneys general are not chess players, because they only were thinking one move out. That is, they thought: “Well, there’s prostitution happening via Craigslist. Let’s stop Craigslist from allowing that.” But, of course, they didn’t bother to think of what would happen next: which is that the prostitutes would scatter to numerous other sites, meaning that the amount of prostitution would continue pretty much unabated, but it would be more scattered and much more difficult for police to track down and stop. You would think that the folks in charge of such things would recognize that the way you stop crime is by going after the actual criminals, rather than the tools they use.

So, what happened after Craigslist implemented the change? Exactly what you’d expect. Ed Kohler checked it out and noticed (as you’d expect) that the number of ads on Craigslist’s erotic services dropped significantly, but the number of ads elsewhere jumped up somewhat (including some on Craigslist’s “Therapeutic Services” — suggesting that some are trying to skirt the new charging system). Kohler only looked at one other site, so it may look like the increase in ads isn’t that big — but if you add up a variety of similar sites, you can bet that it’s quite likely that in total it added up to quite a lot. It’s just that, now, it’s a lot more work for police to actually monitor.

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Comments on “As Expected, Prostitutes Move Elsewhere After Craigslist Change”

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51 Comments
Ima Fish (profile) says:

Prostitution is one of those crimes that prosecutors and police are concerned about only when people are bitching about it. If the police can drive prostitution out of the public’s view, the police have done their job.

This is as true on the net as it is in a city. If residents of a particular area complain about increased prostitution, the police will crack down pushing prostitution somewhere else. Problem solved.

Teilo says:

Regulate it

I am opposed to prostitution on moral grounds. I also believe that criminalizing prostitution is idiotic.

Law enforcement has not chased prostitution as long as it has existed, contrary to what one poster has said here. For most of recorded history, prostitution, even in Christian countries, has been an industry that law enforcement regulated, but did not ban.

Nevada gets it right. Regulate it. Confine it to certain locations. Regulate it’s advertising. Remove the public health risks as much as is feasible. Pass laws preventing the exploitation of sex workers.

This will have two effects: Girls who turn to prostitution (something that will always happen) will have a place to go where they will not be exploited by pimps and drug dealers. Johns will have a place to go that is legal, thus drying up much of the customer base of the pimps. Consequently, prostitution will no longer be the nuisance it presently is, and the police can redirect their enforcement efforts where it is needed, instead of wasting tons of money on prosecuting what, in every state, is a misdemeanor, rather than a felony.

I am not a fish... says:

Re: Regulate it

Fine, you got me. What I should have said was that prostitutes have been chased in the West about as long as we have had modern law enforcement, depending how you define that. By the High Middle Ages 1000 to 1300 AD) there were European towns that prohibited prostitution within the city walls. So, law enforcement has been chasing prostitution for about 1000 years.

Nevada treats prostitution much like societies in the Middle Ages did (prior to the Protestant Reformation, after which prostitution was generally outlawed in Protestant countries).

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

Does anyone in law enforcement THINK?

“We pointed out how little sense it made for various state attorneys general to force Craigslist to charge for the “erotic services” group. “

Epic Fail.

Now if the AG’s were REALLY on the ball, they would have had just urged Craigslist to require the word “Donut” in all posts in the ‘Erotic Services’ category, thus ensuring plenty of ongoing Police attention.

Ah yea. That felt good.

Lucretious (profile) says:

The push to remove the ads ended up forcing a lot of the girls back on the street which only caused quality-of-life issues for residents and a general rise in crime (and lets not forget STD’s). Most women who advertise on Craigs build a small clientele, insist on protection from their clients (condoms etc) and give those who wish to use such services (widowers, etc) a respite from the shame and embarrassment society often places on them for trying to fulfill a basic human need.

Of course Jesus and Allah don’t approve so every politician gets on his soapbox and spews the same tired rhetoric as to why prostitution is such an “evil” blight on society. The fact that it involves two adults who do things in the privacy of their own residences is an annoyance they’d rather do away with.

FWIW Craigs has stopped trying to remove ads. Also, the providers have simply tailored their ads to coincide with Crags posting guidelines. They can still get a message across without being blatant about it.

by the looks of it, Craigs just paid the politicos the lip-service they wanted for a few weeks and eventually everything is back to normal.

crystalattice (profile) says:

This only affects "legitimate" prostitutes

The prostitutes posting to Craigslist obviously have a computer, Internet, etc. Unless they are a streetwalker posting at a library, this would indicate that the prostitutes using Craigslist are your middle-class ones, the ones who have a house, car, etc. and probably even have some college education.

Assuming this is true, then these are the ones who are doing it for the money, the excitement, or some other reason than they have no other choice; essentially they are the type to work in a brothel rather than hang out at bus stations and street corners. They do it because they choose to, not because they have to.

In that sense, I don’t see what the problem is. As Lucretious said, they practice safe sex, do it in the privacy of their house/apartment, and are generally providing a service that people need/want.

Vice laws are some of the worst ones on the books and are a waste of tax dollars, police work, and judicial time.

Anon says:

Re: This only affects "legitimate" prostitutes

Uh, ever consider that it isn’t the girls posting the ads? I have experience with this, and it isn’t usually the girls-it’s the pimps posting the ads saying that they’re the girls. There was even a case of a pimp kidnapping a girl, keeping her tied down in his basement and guess how he got customers? He posted ads saying that it was from the girl. So yeah.

Paul says:

Your View is Short Sighted

They aren’t chess players? Only one move at a time?

Stopping prostitution is like trying to stop the rain, and the powers that be realize this. You can, however, separate it from popular and legitimized sources. When there is one large central location for such services to be bartered, it is easier for a consumer to find such services.

Yes the prostitutes scattered to multiple smaller sites, which would make it more difficult for police to crack down on individuals, but it also makes it more difficult for consumers to find the services they are looking for, which in turn cuts down on the amount of services rendered. This can be executed multiple times.. If taking prostitution from Craigslist spawned 3 smaller sites, then take out one of those other sites causing it to spawn 3 even smaller sites… the more scattered it becomes, the less online prostitution will happen.

If you can’t understand how taking “Whores” out of the yellow pages will greatly reduce prostitution then I don’t know if there is any hope for you, Mike.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Your View is Short Sighted

“If you can’t understand how taking “Whores” out of the yellow pages will greatly reduce prostitution then I don’t know if there is any hope for you, Mike.”

If you can show a single solid piece of evidence to back up that little lie, you might actually be able to change his mind.

Peter says:

What is the point

Well perhaps if they cannot find prostitution on the internet as easily as they used to, they will seek other ways to obtain their gratification. Maybe they will take a trip to Nevada. Perhaps they lack the means and go crazy with need and rape someone.

The “moral” grounds with which people justify these laws against prostitution is incomprehensible to me. Most of the excuses they use to justify such laws were the result of these very laws.

I would love to hear what exactly is so immoral about prostitution, because so far, I haven’t been able to figure it out.

Lucretious (profile) says:

Re: Politicians

They really don’t want to stop prostitution, they’d just like to find a way to tax it.

if that were the case they could just do whats done in northern Europe and create some standards…registration, mandatory blood testing, mandatory protection etc. Allow massage parlors but only in specific areas where it won’t devalue property (ie industrial parks etc). States can levy a minimal tax. We all win.

To me, this all falls back to mainly indirect christian involvement in governmental affairs since I’ve yet to hear any rational argument to keep laws the way they’ve been. And, as much as I respect them, the police are to blame as well. They know full well the futility of trying to control the prostitution “industry” yet they keep backing inane useless laws rather than come out as individuals on the front line and state just how much of a failure its all been. It reminds me a LOT of the “war on drugs”. Year after year they choose to lock up addicts rather than push to make it a medical issue rather than a criminal one. Why they insist on following such a parochial attitude in matters like these is beyond me.

Ryan says:

Yup, I was looking at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch’s website and can’t understand why so many states think streetwalkers and pimps are better (I know it’s simply that legislators don’t want to talk about sex workers at all unless they’re railing against them.).

If brothels were regulated, inspected, and taxed it would turn so many dangerous streets into honest working districts. Women will sell their bodies no matter what laws are made to stop them and men will always pay. Government should respect this universal truth.

jon says:

Well the erotic sevices is alive and healthy today take a look, make such a big deal why don’t they talk abou those erotic newspapers outside of liquor stores, take down craigslist, backpage pops up you see the never ending result, prostitutes do a good deed for society, what about that 40 year old virgin or guys who can’t get laid who have no game.

Who's Business says:

So this is a crime why?

I guess it’s a crime because by its nature, it is difficult to tax and we all know that nothing happens unless big brother gets a cut. We all know too, that the religious right gets their panties in a bunch every time sex is mentioned without their blessing. The way it stands now, prostitution is dangerous and highly exploitative of women. Legalize it and tax it along with pot. I don’t indulge in either but it’s not my business if you do.

Joey This (user link) says:

Response to: Ima Fish on Nov 10th, 2008 @ 12:54pm

This is very true. First they were on craigslist until pressure was on there. They then moved to backpage, until again the pressure came. Then Eros, and now http://www.bettiepage.me . The law, as well as society, needs to realize that as long as it remain tabboo and illegal in most areas, these people will continue to move around. If they would legalize it and monitor it then they would have a little more control over the whole issue.

Joey This (user link) says:

True, they'll just keep moving from place to place.

This is very true. First they were on craigslist until pressure was on there. They then moved to backpage, until again the pressure came. Then Eros, and now http://www.bettiepage.me . The law, as well as society, needs to realize that as long as it remain tabboo and illegal in most areas, these people will continue to move around. If they would legalize it and monitor it then they would have a little more control over the whole issue.

sickofit says:

Seems some people have done zero in the form of research…..where there are prostitutes there are other forms of criminalistic behaviors… when I discovered my mate had involvement in this entity my life flipped over! Phone hacking, computer hacking, internet harrassment, ID theft, etc… all done by the organization behind the prostitutes… the new founded cyber pimps. Often these “girls” work in shifts normally 6 per household. Recruitment has also been suggested to be the stage for human trafficking and child pornography is a commonality in the national level investigations that have been on-going since 2010. I am definetly in the crowd of public outrage that Craigslist… or anyone else…. condones and enables this on-going bowl of crap. Make the misdeameanors a felony, bring charges against anyone who promotes or contributes to these activities inclusive of Craigslist. It’s comparable to allowing dope dealers advertise. It is all against the law and there should be no wishy washy attitudes about it’s presence in our society.

Anonymous Cowardz says:

Keep it illegal, popo are good at their job but obviously dont care about cracking down, they are just removing a tool of people who get laid on a regular basis because they pour their lives into their jobs and dont get laid at home themselves. Sure, they are pissed because we are getting some when they cant because their wives are cunty little bitches who dont put out, but lets look at the positive, they dont do their job well so the prices of connection are very low. IF its regulated price of connection would be much higher.

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