Goodbye Craiglist, hello Facebook.
After withdrawing from the adult business last year, Columbia University sociology professor Sudhir Venkatesh stipulated that a large percentage of prostitutes moved from Craiglist to something more obvious and somewhat sophisticated virtual market: Facebook. Venkatesh estimates that 83 percent of prostitutes have a page in the still fastest growing social networking site. He also believes that by the end of 2011, “Facebook will be the leading online recruitment space.”
This, adding to the growing number of complaints regarding sexual liaisons, discreet sexual advances, and its growing problem of sexual offender. Vankatesh then adds that even in 2008, 25 percent of the prostitutes’ regular clients are through Facebook, a far cry from the 3 percent through Craiglist.
Just last year, there was a misguided media campaign against Craigslist’s adult services section ramped up, and it didn’t take long for various state attorneys general to grandstand against the site with a press conference and “letter” sent to the site, demanding that the adult service section be shut down. This, despite the fact that grandstanding attempts before had resulted in two separate settlements with various state, and Craigslist had lived up to the conditions of both settlements.
Information that the professor divulged about Facebook and prostitutes appears as a sidebar to a larger Wired report on New York city prostitutes, but on the frequency of the activity, he told FoxNews.com, “It’s hard to measure… Sure, it’s intuitive to assume that, like in any other enterprise these days, the Internet is going to take a certain percentage of a business that was normally done without it.”
The social network widely known for re-establishing connection with old friends is now the second leading source of prostitution behind escort services, which provide 31% of clients. As one of the users commented, “social network – social disease,” and people are still waiting for any reaction from the Mark Zuckerberg camp.
This immediately brings to mind an incident two years ago wherein a woman’s identity was stolen on Facebook. The strategy wasn’t that much complex, that is, to create a false profile of another person, and this incident resulted in Kerry Harvey, the woman in question, being branded as a prostitute ona fake profile. Not many people know this but during the onset of what they called the era of Web 2.0, impersonating someone has never been too easy. Now, with the prostitutes moving in on what is said to be an alternative space for sharing experiences and communication, it’s not only the personalities that get muddled but the intentions for doing so.
Truth of the matter is, Facebook and technology is such an asset to prostitution that a smartphone is one of the fastest and effective way for her to increase her earnings, not just so they can keep track of Facebook hookups on the go, but because a smartphone sends a message about her status: that she’s not a street walker, but rather, a high-earning professional.
The infamous Craiglist “adult services” section may be a thing of the past, but the prostitution industry is still riding high on the waves of the web.