A Feature not a Bug

It now appears that the removal of erotic services ads on Craigslist have increased the instance of violence against women:

Under the guise of targeting sex traffickers, FOSTA has both done damage to Section 230 protections and sex workers’ literal lives. The law has yet to result in any credible, sustained damage to human trafficking, but that hasn’t stopped the bill’s supporters from trotting out debunked numbers anytime they need a soundbite.

There will likely be no studies performed by the government to determine FOSTA’s actual impact on sex trafficking, but plenty of academics are offering evidence that pushing sex work further underground is endangering the lives of sex workers. This is just the icing on the stupid, life-threatening cake as multiple law enforcement agencies — including the DOJ itself — pointed out passing FOSTA would make it more difficult to hunt down traffickers.

A study released in 2017 showed the introduction of erotic services section on Craiglist tracked with a 17% drop in female homicides across many major cities. Craigslist spent a few years being publicly vilified by public officials — mainly states attorneys general — before dumping its erotic services section (ERS). This didn’t stop sex work or trafficking, but it did shift the focus away from Craiglist as everyone affected found other services to use.

A newly-released study [PDF] (via Sophie Cull) shows there’s been a corresponding increase in female homicides since the point Craigslist dumped ERS. Online services — enabled by Section 230 — helped sex workers stay safe by reducing or eliminating a few of the more dangerous variables.

This is not a surprise.

The effects were predicted when FOSTA was being debated.

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