The controversial Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA-FOSTA) has forced Craigslist to close its personals section. The controversial bill is designed to penalize websites with criminal sanctions if they are allowing sex work on their platforms, as a personals ad could be.
Unfortunately, the law is so poorly drawn that any website that connects people could be easily targeted by law. This is one of the main reasons why Craigslist has decided to shutdown its personals section, and provided a statement.
“US Congress just passed HR 1865, “FOSTA”, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully.
Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day.
To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!”
There are many, including the EFF, that believe the bill has been built less to genuine crimes, and is more a censorship tool. In 2010, Craigslist said that critics were simply trying people from having casual sex between consenting adults. Due to the legislation, free speech campaigners and sex worker’s rights groups have heavily criticized it because it’s taking away free expression rights.