from the moral-panic-jackpot dept
Years ago, the target was Craigslist because prostitution rings used the site to advertise. The groups who organized this attack celebrated when they finally (based on no legal reason) hounded Craigslist into shutting down certain services, totally oblivious to the fact that this does absolutely nothing to stop prostitution. In fact, smart law enforcement folks realized that rather than blaming the online service providers, working with them would allow them to investigate and arrest lawbreakers. Shutting down those services doesn't lead to stopping any prostitution, it just makes it move elsewhere.
For example, after the attack on Craigslist, many just moved on to Facebook and Backpage. And, now, a breathless article in TheStreet (complete with obnoxious autoplay video! -- you have been warned) talks about the shocking fact that prostitutes also use Twitter. As if this is a surprise.
But, of course, the article comes complete with Congressional idiots grandstanding about how this is a "big problem" for Twitter:
Notified by TheStreet of its investigation that revealed that escort services were using Twitter, Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) urged that Congress investigate. Smith sits on the subcommittee investigating human trafficking, which held hearings Monday on prostitution at sporting events, including this week's Super Bowl in New Jersey.Of course, the way you conduct a "crackdown" is to investigate those who are actually breaking the law: not the tools they use. But, of course, going after prostitutes is a lot less interesting than going after big famous internet companies. So guess who's getting dragged to Congress?
Addressing Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca of the U.S. State Department's office to monitor and combat human trafficking, Smith asked at the subcommittee hearing that he speak to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to initiate a crackdown on Twitter, Backpage, Craigslist and other social media "that are the conduit for this terrible exploitation of women."
Following that meeting, Smith, who serves as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, said he plans to convene a House of Representatives subcommittee hearing later this year, and intends to ask Twitter executives to testify on Capitol Hill to address the issue.Much of the ridiculous TheStreet article focuses on the fact that they're shocked (shocked!) that Twitter hasn't magically found all of the prostitutes using Twitter and killed their accounts. Because, apparently, TheStreet reporter Jonathan Marino thinks that Twitter has staffers who sort through the profiles of all ~700 million active Twitter account holders and can tell which ones are prostitutes and which are not.
"I'm going to look at putting together a hearing to focus on Twitter," Smith said. "We'll look to do a hearing very soon."