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America’s new sex-trafficking bill led Craigslist to pull its personal ads

March 23, 2018

And other sites may follow suit, in order to avoid potential lawsuits.

The news: Axios reports that the well-known classified-ads site Craigslist has shuttered its personal-ad section after the US Congress passed a bill known as the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

Background: FOSTA holds websites liable for anyone who uses online personal ads unlawfully. Explaining its move, Craigslist says it shuttered its personals section because it fears that the risks it would assume by keeping it open could jeopardize its other services.

Other moves: Some less well-known websites have also pulled personal ads. And Reddit has shut down some subreddits—including one called “Escorts” and another called “SugarDaddy”—as part of a broader move to better police its platform.

Why this matters: Anti-trafficking campaigners say FOSTA will help protect vulnerable individuals. Opponents like the Electronic Frontier Foundation say the bill won’t halt sex trafficking, but will have a chilling effect on free speech.

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