Sex Workers Fighting Back Against SESTA/FOSTA With Their Own Social Network... And Plan To Expose Politicians

from the don't-fuck-with-sex-workers dept

One of the most vocal groups in opposition to SESTA/FOSTA were sex workers, who spoke out about how the bills would put their lives at risk and how it would put the lives of trafficking victims at risk, often making it more difficult for victims to find information on how to get help or to protect themselves. Indeed, there are already reports of information sites shutting down entirely. But it's also interesting to see that sex workers are continuing to fight this -- including reports of a Google Doc making the rounds where sex workers can expose members of Congress who have used their services:

Of course, who knows how accurate such a list would ever be, but it will be interesting to watch if we suddenly learn of elected officials who voted for SESTA/FOSTA suddenly being outed for making use of sex workers. I mean, it certainly wouldn't be the first time an elected official claiming to crack down on sex work was found to have been making use of the services he was moralizing against.

Perhaps more interesting, though, is that a group of sex workers have apparently attempted to set up their own social network, called Switter. It's a Mastodon Instance (Mastodon being the fairly well known open source decentralized social networking platform that allows anyone to set up an individual "instance" which can then choose -- or choose not -- to federate with other Mastodon instances). The stated reasons for Switter are to prepare for the possibility of Twitter banning accounts of sex workers and to have more control over their social media space. As I write this, the site claims to have about 12,000 signed up users.

Of course, I'm not sure that this actually solves any of the problems of SESTA/FOSTA -- and, indeed, this may put a target on the backs of those who set up Switter. Depending on how one reads the law (and, again, part of the problem is that SESTA/FOSTA's drafting is terrible, with lots of vague terminology and little clarification), it's possible that prosecutors could argue that Switter itself violates SESTA/FOSTA. I mean, here's a key provision in the bill:

Whoever, using a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce or in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, owns, manages, or operates an interactive computer service (as such term is defined in defined in section 230(f) the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 230(f))), or conspires or attempts to do so, with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both.

Is Switter "promoting or facilitating the prostitution of another person"? You can see how a prosecutor could make an argument that it is. And while the site is apparently based in Australia, giving it potentially some protection from US laws, the US government isn't exactly known for caring about such jurisdictional issues. Of course, if cases were brought against the people running Switter, you would think they would potentially have pretty strong First Amendment arguments for why SESTA/FOSTA is unconstitutional. If they were just setting up a community around sex work, and suddenly faced liability, there are some clear implications for freedom of expression -- once again, highlighting some of the many constitutional concerns of SESTA/FOSTA that its drafters and supporters still refuse to take seriously.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 9:47am

    Now...

    You know why they put this legislation in...

    "Depending on how one reads the law (and, again, part of the problem is that SESTA/FOSTA's drafting is terrible, with lots of vague terminology and little clarification), it's possible that prosecutors could argue that Switter itself violates SESTA/FOSTA."

    People ask for laws and the lawmakers work them to benefit them and their cronies while ignoring what the people asked for to begin with. The literal cycle on how civilization needs to destroy it's own government and recreate them from time to time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Hero, 4 Apr 2018 @ 1:57pm

      Re: Now...

      > People ask for laws and the lawmakers work them to benefit them and their cronies while ignoring what the people asked for to begin with.

      I think in this case, the lawmakers are just ignorant. That happens a lot.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 4:20pm

        Re: Re: Now...

        Just this case? I would say they are willfully ignorant in most cases. There are some exceptions in some cases.

        It's not the govt we want it's what we deserve.

        As long as we the sheeple keep re electing the same politicians we'll keep getting the same "ignorance" at all levels of govt.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2018 @ 2:46am

          Re: Re: Re: Now...

          And so long as you and your like keep denigrating the people, little will change. Political change requires engagement with the people, not disdain of the people.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2018 @ 2:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: Now...

          First off, for crap's sake, never use the word "sheeple" again. This is 2018 and you're among people with brain cells here, not Fox News watchers.

          Secondly, the problem isn't the fact that voters keep voting in crap politicians, it's that most people don't get off their couches to vote. We're at the point where only a small minority of dedicated crazies are voting, which is why our politicians keep getting crazier and crazier, to appeal to that small minority of citizens who bother to vote.

          If everyone voted, we would all be in a much better place. No need for pitchforks or burning down government buildings; the government would function the way it was designed to work. If only a small percentage of citizens vote, the whole thing falls apart.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 8 Apr 2018 @ 4:24am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Now...

            It's not *quite* that simple; if people vote on things they don't know about, or possibly even don't understand, that doesn't help and may in fact make things worse. A mandate that everyone vote (which I understand exists in some countries) would not necessarily be a good thing even in terms of outcomes, never mind individual freedom.

            The current status quo in voting participation, however, is well short of even "everyone who knows what they're voting for or against actually does vote", much less "everyone, even people who have no idea what the issues are, votes" - so getting more people to actually bother to vote would indeed do a great deal to help the situation.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 10:06am

    Hmm, referencing sex workers to try and sell your agenda. Interesting strategy lol

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 10:12am

      Re:

      Did you read the article and linked articles? There is no agenda here. The sex workers themselves are opposed SESTA/FOSTA. TD is just reporting on it.

      Get a clue, blue.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 1:13pm

      You worried you’re gonna get outed?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 5:56pm

      Re:

      This coming from the guys who cozied up to the likes of Malibu Media and Prenda Law to get porn copyright trolling normalized in the courts. If a passing association with porn is all it takes to merit derision the copyright tards like you more than qualify.

      Have a SESTA vote.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 10:48am

    "from the don't-fuck-with-sex-workers dept"

    Well-played, Masnick.

    Well-played.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael H, 4 Apr 2018 @ 10:56am

    Austria, not Australia

    Switter was setup in Austria, not Australia. I think it was done because prostitution is legal in Austria, so it might offer some legal protection. It might also keep US laws from affecting people who aren't Americans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 4 Apr 2018 @ 11:40am

    I had suggested to the sex workers I know on Twitter (what, I know LOTS of people) before passage that perhaps it would be time to break the cardinal rule & out their Congressional clients. It goes against the ethics of sex workers, but their clients just screwed them over.

    I hope some big names fall.

    We have poverty, mental illness, homelessness, & a long list of actual problems & they focused on this entirely imaginary problem of at least 30 trillion kids being brought into town everytime there is a major sporting event.

    Instead of trying to make it so those who do SW end up dead, how about you decriminalize consenting adults so the tiny few trafficked kids stand out more? Oh thats right you can't stomach thinking about women having sex for money... funny thing that... if we look at how lobbyist buy laws for their clients that screw citizens you'd think there would be some professional courtesy extended.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 4:38pm

      Re:

      Unfortunately, I haven't banged any politicians during my course of work, so I don't have any names to add to the list. If I did, I'd totally be breaking the code myself.

      Bad Johns who bring violence and danger upon us are what we call exceptions to the rule. By that definition, anyone who voted for SESTA/FOSTA doesn't deserve the protection of our discretion.

      This reminds me of when Ted Haggard got outed by one of his hoes. Countdown 'til Dan Savage blows up over this and calls all of us traitors. *eye roll*

      Anyway, where's the link to that Google Doc? C'mon, let's put the Dirt in TechDirt already!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        The_Jerk, 4 Apr 2018 @ 10:47pm

        Re: Re:

        I actually think it's crucial that the list be released, once a critical mass of names is obtained (though as with anything, proof would have been SOOOOO much sweeter). These Congressional shitheads have had a swift kick to the teeth from The People coming for awfully long time, and if sex workers want the honor, then I don't see a problem with it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 11:45am

    damn good job! the sooner there are more politicians revealed for their wrong doings and the shit laws they introduce that only benefit them and not those purported to represent, the sooner maybe there will be a government worth having. of course, getting rid of Trump first has to be accomplished and given the way he has blackmailed his way in the world, that will be difficult. once achieved though, things should surely be easier!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 12:00pm

    Since the 15 min of #meto seems to be over

    "Of course, who knows how accurate such a list would ever be..." I'm gonna go with it does not matter, they missed the window of opportunity

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 4 Apr 2018 @ 12:04pm

    "I mean, it certainly wouldn't be the first time an elected official claiming to crack down on sex work was found to have been making use of the services he was moralizing against. "

    Considering how often people who fight the hardest and more viciously against some stuff are the ones that are more "guilty" of doing it. I'm not sure the exact name but psychologists explain it as the person hating what he/she is and projecting it onto their equals. They are not killing another gay, they are killing themselves. I suspect it's kind of the same for some politicians while others are just plain hypocrites using it to appeal to their conservative voters even if they use such services themselves.

    Overall I do hope these politicians are exposed. At the very least they can die by the legislative sword as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 12:39pm

    Let me just say straight up that a mere Google Doc listing names is going to get nowhere fast. That's just asking for people who have grudges against a politician to put up false information about them.

    But if they can put up hard evidence, reciepts or photos... that's another matter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 4:43pm

      Re:

      If they stayed at any hotels, they could get the security footage off the tapes. Also, an evidence collection sting wouldn't be too hard to coordinate with a private investigator, who you could always pay with sex, so long as he doesn't mind sloppy seconds.

      These politicans are arrogant, too, so setting them up would be a breeze. Expect to see corraborating evidence attached to this Google Doc in due time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        The_Jerk, 4 Apr 2018 @ 11:00pm

        Re: Re:

        Evidence is excellent, but I really do hope they don't make the mistake of thinking they have loads and loads of time. Assuming such a list exists (it doesn't even have to be 100% accurate), I'm pretty sure that's the kind of thing people tend to go "missing" over in due course.

        If you catch my drift.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 12:41pm

    Botta-bing!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Bob, 4 Apr 2018 @ 8:37pm

      Re:

      You're all whores Mike... sex workers are honest whores though. At least they admit it. You spread for Google and hide behind phony not for profits.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        The_Jerk, 4 Apr 2018 @ 10:52pm

        Re: Re:

        For the longest time I actually did wonder what his exact affiliation with Google was. But if there was anything going on (the EFF sticking up for him kinda makes me doubt it), it's gone sour quite a while ago.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 6 Apr 2018 @ 2:21am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's been covered, and it's paper thin at best.

          If memory serves the extent of the connection is they provided a room and supplies for an event, they were forced to list TD in a lawsuit after a judge refused to believe that Google hadn't paid anyone to write about one of their cases and so expanded the order to 'anyone who had ever been paid by(indirectly or not) Google and had written about the company'(and you would not believe how nuts some of the site's 'fans' went over that 'reveal'), and they are one of the sponsors for the Copia Institute.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2018 @ 6:31am

        Re: Re:

        Really dude? Insulting people is not going to get you anywhere, nor change anyone's mind. It's only going to lead to backlash on to you and people being even less likely to take you seriously or listen to a word you say.

        Also, extremely uncalled for. Sex workers are human beings and deserve to be treated with respect and decency, REGARDLESS of what you think of their profession. Calling Mike and others here at TD vulgar names and equating them to worse than sex workers (whom you also call vulgar names) is, in my opinion, worse than those things you like to denigrate.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2018 @ 8:49pm

    Hopefully some copyright cartel members will be exposed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 5 Apr 2018 @ 5:20am

    "I'm gonna make my own social media site, with b̶l̶a̶c̶k̶j̶a̶c̶k̶ and hookers!"

    /Bender

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 6 Apr 2018 @ 2:24am

    Nothing to worry about, right...?

    As I'm certain that no-one who professed to care so very much for the plight of the sex worker would ever employ someone in the profession I'm sure that all of those that voted in favor of the bill, one and all, are absolutely and utterly without any worry about potentially being outed as gigantic hypocrites(again).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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