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Craigslist was the first site Stark used to transition away from the street, where she relied on her military training to make "snap judgments" to stay out of harm's way, dodge potentially dangerous clients and avoid getting arrested -- again.

Even with the advantage of her military training, however, "most often, physical appearance and demeanor really don't tell you a whole lot," she said. Many sex workers run background checks on clients, communicate through online forums and check "bad date lists," which sex workers create to warn others about hostile clients.

Stark also has a mandatory hour waiting period before she agrees to meet clients, giving her time to check for criminal records and other warning signs. She learned ways to stay safe and grow her business from other sex workers online, some of whom keep blogs.

We can mentor each other. We can support each other. We can screen our clients," said Akynos. Bolstering these concerns about sex worker safety is a recent research paper -- still under peer review -- that suggests Craigslist's "erotic" services section may be linked to a drop in the female homicide rate.

Prostitutes speak out against Senate health bill. I don't think Waco had one. But Craigslist didn't launch this section in every city at the same time. Cunningham's team found that cities where Craigslist launched the section for erotic services reduced their female homicide rate by up to However, it is not possible to say what portion of those homicide victims were sex workers, Cunningham said, nor is it possible to prove that Craigslist was directly responsible for the dip.

This reduction wasn't seen for other types of homicides Cunningham analyzed. The research gives quantitative insight into what is likely to happen in the wake of the new bill, he said. Some of them go back to working for a pimp. Some of them, maybe they advertise on the dark web. Limited information exists on the number of sex workers in the United States, including illegal acts of prostitution. Many definitions of sex work include a broader variety of services beyond prostitution, such as "erotic performances.

Akynos expects that black sex workers will be some of the hardest hit by the anti-trafficking legislation. She recently founded a group called the Black Sex Worker Collective to "help facilitate sex workers who may be looking to exit the business, as well as support those that are in the business. We're already criminalized in so many more ways than white people are, period," said Akynos, who specified that she was not talking about sex work alone.

What is going to happen to us as a whole? The bill's supporters, including 97 senators who voted for the legislation, say it will give law enforcement tools in the fight against sex trafficking and enable survivors and their families to seek justice in the court system. The bill followed a two-year Senate investigation into online sex trafficking on the classified ads site Backpage.

The investigation, led by bill co-sponsors Sens. Rob Portman and Claire McCaskill, found that Backpage knowingly aided criminal sex trafficking of women and young girls, scrubbing terms from ads such as "Lolita," "teenage," "rape" and "amber alert" and publishing them on its site.

Anti-trafficking organizations around the world. The investigation led Backpage to shut down its adult ads section. The site was seized by federal law enforcement agencies Friday, and on Monday the Justice Department announced that seven people have been indicted on 93 counts related to facilitating prostitution and money laundering.

Ron Wyden, one of only two senators to vote against the new bill, said in February that it would paradoxically "make it harder to catch bad actors and protect victims by driving this vile crime to shadowy corners of society that are harder for law enforcement to reach.

Roughly 6, sex trafficking cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline last year. When asked about the concerns over sex worker safety, Benavides said, "Tell that to the mothers and fathers of daughters who've been murdered after being trafficked on Backpage.

Despite wide congressional support, a number of tech groups have voiced concerns about the legislation, alleging that its broad reach could lead to unintended negative consequences for free speech on the internet and for smaller companies whose resources don't rival those of tech giants such as Facebook and Twitter.

The American Civil Liberties Union is considering a challenge to the bill once it gets signed into law but has no definite plans to do so, said Ian Thompson, a legislative representative for the organization. Thompson said some of the bill's language is "so broad that it's open to interpretation of what exactly is intended to be included and what's not intended to be included.

Just before the bill passed, McCaskill told reporters that it was "a very, very narrowly written law. Craigslist itself has previously been a target of law enforcement officials over its adult ads. The company also received media attention after a number of high-profile murders and stories about sex trafficking through their website.

In , Craigslist began manually screening ads at the behest of several state attorneys general, concerned that the site was promoting prostitution. The following year, under similar pressure, the company removed its "adult services" section , replacing it with the word "censored. But answer the wrong ad, and there's a risk of being raped, murdered or falling into a sex-trafficking ring. As these ads go offline, we spoke to a year-old man in New York who used Craigslist's personal ads - specifically the casual encounters section - as a way of finding casual sex in his early 20s.

He spoke to us on condition of anonymity, because, well, that's what Craigslist personals were all about. It's part of what made them successful, he thinks. Unlike dating apps that often require being linked to a social media account, on Craigslist you could be nameless and Facebook-less.

There's less stigma now about using dating sites or apps, but some people prefer to be anonymous. And sometimes he didn't even get to see what they looked like. He estimates that he would answer hundreds of ads, which might net about 10 replies, which might then lead to one in-person interaction. That's a LOT of email.

But the encounters were memorable. In one encounter, a woman insisted on having porn blasting the entire time. Another made him put on a blindfold the moment he arrived. He's not happy with Craigslist's decision, even though he's not using the platform anymore. He has a girlfriend now. But there's a lot of people out there just looking for casual sex and some people find dating apps intimidating.

He acknowledges that dating apps have lost a lot of the stigma they used to carry four or five years ago. But the public nature of dating apps - friends and friends of friends can see your profile - can make it harder to be forthcoming about just wanting sex, if that's what you're after.

People worry that saying "just here for a hookup," on an app "makes them look like they're slutty or whatever," he says, "so people use Craigslist.

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The ads are so obvious that it's surprising the euphemisms are effective in fending off law enforcement. Then again, maybe they are law enforcement. Amidst all those failures, I had one near-success. A woman wrote in response to my sweet "cuddling first" ad saying she was in town for only a couple of months, and that she was frustrated she couldn't find a relationship.

When she sent her pictures, she looked plain but attractive. We exchanged a couple of e-mails over the course of two hours, tossing back and forth lists of interests and the like. She made it clear that she wanted to meet up, and while she talked about starting slow, it was clear that it would indeed be a casual encounter.

But when I suggested a time to meet — the last message from me before I would reveal myself and back out — there was no reply. At least, not yet. The next day, she e-mailed me saying she was deeply apologetic and that she'd fallen asleep. She said she'd like to meet up sometime.

So yes, there are women on Craigslist. Well, at least one! You've probably guessed by now that the experiences for heterosexual men and women on Craigslist's casual encounters are quite different. I observed that for every ad a woman posts, there are at least 20 from men. If nothing else, that imbalance ought to alter the experience.

To get the female perspective, I did two things: I posted a fake ad as a woman to see what kinds of responses I would get, and I interviewed two women who have had success hooking up on casual encounters in the past. As for potential suitors, I asked only that they supply a photo and "be attractive and not creepy.

There was a five minute delay before my ad appeared, then I started receiving about one response per minute. Most of them were careful to say "I don't do this often. Some sent pictures of themselves naked along with the word "Hi.

There were a lot of expressions of sympathy over my fake breakup. I was hearing from men of all types, and it seemed I had my pick of the litter.

After about thirty minutes, though, my post was flagged for removal. I thought I'd made it look legit, but as we learned earlier, folks have good reason to be hawkish about scammers. After the end of my test run with Craigslist casual encounters, I decided to get more insight into the female experience with the site by interviewing two women who said they had successes meeting up with men on Casual Encounters. Their problem was the opposite of mine. They had too many options to pick from, but they both dealt with the numerous choices in the same way.

Both women ultimately responded to men who they felt put effort into writing long, personal messages as opposed to quick notes. Multiple paragraphs of insightful and relatable prose won out — but only after the initial test of physical appearance.

Both said they immediately eliminated men who opened with pictures of genitalia — a very common practice. However, looks were important. One of the women I interviewed said she once had a crush on a client at her job, but couldn't make a move without compromising her professionalism.

However, she was looking through Casual Encounters and saw an ad from a man, and she recognized his writing style — it was her old client! She sent him a message to see if it was him, asking a question only he would be able to answer. He proved his identity and they ended up hooking up. One of the women said she would go to Casual Encounters when she was looking for a very specific sexual experience — something you can't always count on from a one night stand that starts at a club or bar.

The other said her reasons could be summed up as "curiosity, boredom, and convenience. The trick is to keep an open mind and not have any real expectations. At the very least, it's mildly entertaining. After all this exploration, I'll say that Craigslist casual encounters is a place where people go to find very specific things from each other that they might not be able to conveniently locate in the real world. Some of those things are very alternative.

It's a last, best hope for some people who are looking to make a personal connection, but it's full of spam, unwanted attention, crime, and, well You might not find what you're looking for, but you're sure to find something interesting regardless. Image courtesy of iStockphoto , nights , geotrac. Samuel Axon is a digital content producer in New York City. He has worked as an editor at Engadget, Mashable and the Joystiq network, and currently leads content strategy as Editorial Director at Sprout Social.

We're using cookies to improve your experience. Click Here to find out more. Entertainment Like Follow Follow. The Experiment I began with a listing announcing myself to the women of my city. Barking Up the Wrong Tree All the responses I got from real people on my first day weren't from women — they were from men.

But where were they? I was only getting messages from gay or bisexual men! An Army of Scammers Over the next couple of days, I actually received a lot of posts from women.

Taking Initiative What little luck I'd had so far. As dating sites rose to prominence and hookup apps took over our romantic exploits, Craigslist personals seemed like a nostalgic artifact of our digital past. The pulling of the personal ads made everyone stop and ponder: While Craigslist has dominated the space, there are several platforms that offer the same services as Craigslist, if you know where to find them. One of the most helpful Craigslist features is its housing section, which allows renters to post about openings for roommates, landlords to post about available rentals, travelers to post about sublets, and more.

But if you're looking for alternative places to find housing be sure to check out: Spare room is a roommate-searching platform that allows users to post "room wanted" ads and "room available" ads.

The service also has expanded with an IRL event, Speed Roomating, in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to connect a community of people looking for a housemate, making it faster and easier than ever to find someone to share your space with. The group is for actors so the housing offered tends to be short-term sublets or temporary rentals, as actors book tours are looking for people to finish out their lease.

But with over k subscribers, Ghostlight Housing can be a great way to find a place to stay, especially as you look to get your footing when you move to a new city. Roomster is a home-sharing website that was founded in with a simple mission: The site allows home owners to post listings of their space, and then allows users to sort through them, filtering out whether they're looking for a room, an entire place, a roommate, or a tenant.

The site also allows users to connect their social accounts to their Roomster profiles so that you can better verify that your potential roommate is actually who they say they are. It is astounding what you can buy and sell on Craigslist. But if you're looking for alternative platforms for peer-to-peer purchases, be sure to check out: That could be because it's super easy to list items on eBay. To sell something eBay, just enter the category of item that you'd like to get rid of, and eBay will list similar items to yours, allow you to set the condition of your item, and then the platform will send pricing recommendations.

The site also boasts a "best offer" feature, which allows users to place a bid for an item other than the listed price. For shoppers, that means a greater ability to negotiate bargains for goods and for sellers, that means its easier than ever to get cash for an item you're trying to get rid of.

With Amazon making it easier and easier to buy things you can now buy stuff with the push of a button , after all , it's easy to forget that the digital commerce site also lets you sell things too. For anybody who is looking to sell stuff on Amazon, the platform has two subscription plans — professional and individual. That means whether you're a small business or just looking for some extra cash by getting rid of some of the junk you have lying around, Amazon can be the perfect tool to find a new marketplace to sell stuff.

The joy of Craigslist's list "for sale" section was that almost anybody could post or respond to a listing.

The downside is that almost anybody could post or respond to a listing For anybody looking for a little extra security, meet Facebook Marketplace. The tool allows Facebook users to buy and or sell items in their neighborhood. But the perk of Facebook Marketplace is that it connects to your Facebook profile and displays data that you've made public on the platform, which the platform hopes will make it easier to avoid spam and fishing.

Know where and how to search, and Craigslist can be a job hunters go-to career board. With everything from writing gigs to medical opportunities, Craigslist hosted a bevy of job listings. But for anybody looking for an alternative, make sure to check out:

The internet learned that lesson the hard way in March when Craigslist announced that it would be pulling its personals section in response to Senate bill H. Don't worry, the beloved Missed Connections section is still alive and well, and has a new home in Craigslist's community section.

The move shocked users everywhere, primarily because the site and its personals seemed like an untouchable staple of the early internet. As dating sites rose to prominence and hookup apps took over our romantic exploits, Craigslist personals seemed like a nostalgic artifact of our digital past. The pulling of the personal ads made everyone stop and ponder: While Craigslist has dominated the space, there are several platforms that offer the same services as Craigslist, if you know where to find them.

One of the most helpful Craigslist features is its housing section, which allows renters to post about openings for roommates, landlords to post about available rentals, travelers to post about sublets, and more. But if you're looking for alternative places to find housing be sure to check out: Spare room is a roommate-searching platform that allows users to post "room wanted" ads and "room available" ads. The service also has expanded with an IRL event, Speed Roomating, in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to connect a community of people looking for a housemate, making it faster and easier than ever to find someone to share your space with.

The group is for actors so the housing offered tends to be short-term sublets or temporary rentals, as actors book tours are looking for people to finish out their lease. But with over k subscribers, Ghostlight Housing can be a great way to find a place to stay, especially as you look to get your footing when you move to a new city. Roomster is a home-sharing website that was founded in with a simple mission: The site allows home owners to post listings of their space, and then allows users to sort through them, filtering out whether they're looking for a room, an entire place, a roommate, or a tenant.

The site also allows users to connect their social accounts to their Roomster profiles so that you can better verify that your potential roommate is actually who they say they are. It is astounding what you can buy and sell on Craigslist. But if you're looking for alternative platforms for peer-to-peer purchases, be sure to check out: That could be because it's super easy to list items on eBay. To sell something eBay, just enter the category of item that you'd like to get rid of, and eBay will list similar items to yours, allow you to set the condition of your item, and then the platform will send pricing recommendations.

The site also boasts a "best offer" feature, which allows users to place a bid for an item other than the listed price. For shoppers, that means a greater ability to negotiate bargains for goods and for sellers, that means its easier than ever to get cash for an item you're trying to get rid of. With Amazon making it easier and easier to buy things you can now buy stuff with the push of a button , after all , it's easy to forget that the digital commerce site also lets you sell things too.

For anybody who is looking to sell stuff on Amazon, the platform has two subscription plans — professional and individual. That means whether you're a small business or just looking for some extra cash by getting rid of some of the junk you have lying around, Amazon can be the perfect tool to find a new marketplace to sell stuff. The joy of Craigslist's list "for sale" section was that almost anybody could post or respond to a listing.

The downside is that almost anybody could post or respond to a listing For anybody looking for a little extra security, meet Facebook Marketplace. The tool allows Facebook users to buy and or sell items in their neighborhood.

But the perk of Facebook Marketplace is that it connects to your Facebook profile and displays data that you've made public on the platform, which the platform hopes will make it easier to avoid spam and fishing. You are not alone. Trump to trafficking victims: These men were forced into slavery in Scotland.

Orphanage 'recruited kids to get donations'. Atlanta teens helping end slavery. Escaping slavery in Hong Kong. Kutcher testifies against sex trafficking. The dark ingredient in your chocolate. An unusual weapon against modern slavery. Abused orphan gets second chance. Safe house helps teenage sex trafficking victim. Survivor overcomes her sex trafficking past. Sex trafficking in Colombia. Students fight modern slavery.

Artists draw attention to modern slavery. From domestic slave to the Democratic Convention. Sex trafficking victim speaks out. Story highlights The bill that passed Congress may actually harm sex workers, critics say Internet forums provide protections for sex workers, who find work off streets.

Seeing her own reflection "was so traumatizing" for Stark, a transgender woman who hadn't yet undergone the surgical treatments she knew she needed. Some days, she couldn't leave the house. She tried taking her own life. An Army veteran living with disability, she could not get this surgical care from her usual provider, the Department of Veterans Affairs, which does not pay for or perform gender transition-related surgeries.

Stark calls Wisconsin home but mostly lives out of a suitcase, maintaining a busy schedule as an escort, adult film performer, photographer and phone sex operator. But now, her career is coming to an abrupt end after a bill passed by Congress in March. Senate approves anti-sex-trafficking bill. I just call it the end of my career, essentially," she said. The bill, called the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act , prompted the online bulletin board Craigslist to shut down its personal ads two days after its passage.

The bill was directed against sex trafficking, not the volitional career in sex work to which Stark credits her own survival. Craigslist is an online classifieds site, divided by city or geographic area, through which users advertise a range of goods, services, jobs and housing. Now awaiting the president's signature, the bill paves the way for sex trafficking survivors to hold websites accountable for "knowingly" facilitating their abuse.

The legislation chips away at part of a act that gave a broad layer of immunity to online companies, such as Facebook or Twitter, from being held liable for what their users post. The company did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. Though the bill aims to crack down on sex trafficking and protect survivors, critics say it threatens the lives and livelihoods of sex workers who choose to work in the profession by encouraging websites like Craigslist to censor their content -- pushing some sex workers back out to the street and removing their tools for finding and screening clients.

Some sex workers are already losing their housing as a direct result of forums like Craigslist personals going dark, according to Christa B. Daring, board president of the Sex Workers Outreach Project. Many pay rent week-to-week and struggle to feed themselves and their children, they said. Craigslist was the first site Stark used to transition away from the street, where she relied on her military training to make "snap judgments" to stay out of harm's way, dodge potentially dangerous clients and avoid getting arrested -- again.

Even with the advantage of her military training, however, "most often, physical appearance and demeanor really don't tell you a whole lot," she said. Many sex workers run background checks on clients, communicate through online forums and check "bad date lists," which sex workers create to warn others about hostile clients.

Stark also has a mandatory hour waiting period before she agrees to meet clients, giving her time to check for criminal records and other warning signs.

She learned ways to stay safe and grow her business from other sex workers online, some of whom keep blogs. We can mentor each other.

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