Craigslist is a network of online classified sites organized by city — a less formal version of eBay that emphasizes local transactions. Started in San Francisco in by Craig Newmark, Craigslist has become a nationwide — and even international — phenomenon with a network of city-based websites. In September alone, the sites that make up the Craigslist network had nearly 9 million visitors.
But not everyone is selling used Playstations or offering cleaning services. Craigslist has a darker, deviant side where illicit or legally questionable activities — often sexual in nature — are offered for cash or in trade. The Craigslist Personals category contains a Casual Encounters subcategory — casual encounters being a euphemism for casual sex.
Meanwhile, in the Services category, where users can find movers, web deers, and even attorneys, the Erotic Services category serves as an authorized portal to the world of professional and semi-professional sex-workers and their clients.
No more boringI get paid to have a good time. Harvard students — or at least those purporting to be Harvard students — also have a presence in the Erotic Services area. The Gigs section frequently contains wanted for dancers, modeling and massage that are either explicitly adult or sketchy enough that it seems a safe assumption.
Police enforcement against online posters tends to be lax because the activity is not publicly visible, like streetwalking, and rarely provokes much public outcry. In August, Boston police arrested two women who advertised sexual services on Craigslist, and in October, Braintree police busted five women who had done the same.
Craigslist does cooperate with law enforcement when requested, but does not have the resources to monitor all of the posts on the numerous Craigslist websites. Save my name,and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
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Dan Alban is a 3L who recently bought a few board games via Craigslist. Please comment!
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