It was a surprise move when Craigslist decided it was closing its personals section for good. They announced that due to legislation from the white house, they won’t be operating a section of its site that had allowed individuals to request for encounters with complete strangers online.
This move was made 2 days after the approval of a bipartisan legislation by the Senate, named the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.
This legislation, which is currently awaiting the President’s assent, would make an exception for the 1996 Communications Decency Act’s Section 230, and would allow sex trafficking victims to legally sue sites that were used to facilitate abuse.
The House has already passed the legislation with an overwhelming majority. The bill was also endorsed by White House officials.
The Communications Decency Act’s Section 230 was a legal protection, which provided legal immunity to companies and protected them from any liabilities arising out of user-created content.
Companies are only expected to take measures in good faith for protecting their users from “harassing, excessively violent, filthy, lascivious, lewd, obscene, or objectionable” content. However, critics have argued that this legislation protects firms from being considered liable for such crimes.
But internet rights activists and tech industry associations are now worried about free speech-related issues that could arise as a result of this legislation. In Aug 2017, over 10 technology trade groups, which included the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Internet Association wrote a letter and condemned this Senate bill, stating that companies would be forced to take adverse measures.
The groups remarked that platforms would choose to be extremely cautious in removing user-uploaded content and cut back on any proactive preventive measures.
Craigslist issued a statement, in which it noted that any service or tool could be misused. However, they were not prepared to take risks and jeopardize its other services. Therefore, it would be shutting down its personals section, it announced. It added that it hoped to revive the section in the future.
This personals section remains visible on the homepage of the website. However, it now redirects the users who click on its link to an announcement regarding the personals section shutdown.
That’s why since that day, Cityxguide has grown and grown, because the desire for personals has not got anywhere, despite the fact that the most popular sites in the game closed down.