Craigslist shuts its "adult" section. Where will sex ads go now?
Suddenly, the attorneys general have been deprived of their villain. What now? Richard Blumenthal, ringleader of the AGs and a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut, ventures, "We hope that their example in doing the right thing will lead others to follow them." Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., organizer of a congressional inquiry into online sex ads, warns, "Child sex trafficking continues and lawmakers need to fight future machinations of Internet-driven sites that peddle children." Malika Saada Saar, the activist whose organization personally targeted Newmark ("Tell Craig To Quit Selling Sex With Kids"), says her goal now is to remove similar ads from other sites.
But that may prove difficult. "My fear is that the ads will migrate to the 'casual encounters' section" of Craigslist, Saar tells the San Francisco Chronicle. In the company's huge pool of general personal ads, sex ads would be harder to identify and scrutinize. The Associated Press devotes a whole piece ("1 'censored' bar won't stop online prostitution") to explaining why sex ads will simply relocate. And the Washington Post says legal experts worry that the closure of the adult-services division "could simply shift the ads to … other sites that would be harder for authorities to monitor."
That's exactly what Buckmaster and Newmark said would happen. Nobody believed them when the scenario was hypothetical. Now that it's real, we'll find out. Like Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. William Saletan's latest short takes on the news, via Twitter:
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.
Photograph of a man and woman by Andrea Chu/Thinkstock.