Amidst legal threats from authorities about the concern of spreading prostitution online, Craigslist voluntarily shut down its adults section. Sex and the internet are inseparable and have been for as long as the commercial internet has been available. The problem with Craigslist censorship is that it doesn’t accomplish anything since consumers run to alternatives. It’s akin to the drug problem, you can’t sell without customers. Cutting off suppliers and distributors makes things a bit more inconvenient.
Japan has what Steve Jobs would say are onerous terms regarding the running of personal sites. Companies running personal sites need to register with the police and fulfill various conditions (save all logs for 1 year, ensure no minors can use the site, quickly respond to any police requests for taking down or providing information, etc.). So what happens? Teens setup online profiles to hook up and prostitutes solicit on gaming sites or they do their dirty business on social networks. Crimes become that much harder to police and activities even harder to monitor.
Stigmatizing adult content or services will not make it go away. If adult classifieds are here to stay in one form or another, I’d rather have them on Craigslist rather than on an anonymous site run on offshore servers that might be harvesting your data to sell to others, infect your computer with malware, phish your credit card info, blackmail you or all of the above.
I think it’s time we redefine the problem we’re trying to solve rather than taking stabs in the dark, shutting down anything and everything tainted with the word “adult”.