Craigslist shaken by sex scandals
It seems sex scandals are not simply the preserve of for-profit sites like MySpace: now Craigslist.org, the feel-good local community site, has run into its own headaches relating to the online hunt for sex.
The problems began last week with Casual Encounters, an area where adults can post personal ads for distinctly short-term relationships. It seems last Monday one Jason Fortuny, a particularly mean-spirited prankster, posted a message in the forum on Craigslist Seattle passing himself off as a woman seeking male companionship. That alone might not have been the worst sin, but then publishing the ensuing flood of response e-mails, in their entirety, on the public Encylopedia Dramatica was hardly sporting. The fallout has been ugly, says Waxy.org in its detailed report as hundreds of would-be trysters have been unmasked. "Instantly, commenters...started identifying the men. Dissenters emailed the guys to let them know they were scammed. Several of them were married, which has led to what will likely be the first of many separations."
Dumb, dumb, dumb, say veteran bloggers like John Paczkowski at Good Morning Silicon Valley to the hapless prankees. But Paczkowski and others are also curious to see what happens to Fortuny. "My guess is Fortuny's going to find himself on the receiving end of a lawsuit in short order," he writes. According to a more recent Boing Boing post lawsuits have already been threatened (though as of yet no confirmed legal motions), while Violet Blue, a sex columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, has come to the defense of her friend Fortuny arguing "that The Craigslist Experiment is an inevitable form of online natural selection. If you have something to lose, don't do something that could make you lose it. And I also think that if our culture was made to feel less ashamed about sex, Jason's results would be quite different."
More issues with Craigslist came to light in Bucks County, Pa., last week, where undercover police arrested twelve women who had been advertising "GFEs" on the site. "GFEs explains the Chicago Tribune (registration required, via AP) are "girlfriend experiences," and require monetary compensation, and the police say that's prostitution. The Trib says "similar sting operations have led to prostitution charges against women in states including Maryland, New York, Oregon and New Hampshire."
Maybe it's time to bring in McGruff.
One unfortunate angle of the Internet community is the kind of moronic "mob justice" we saw happen here.
You use it...you loose it. If you are using a public forum like Craigslist and react to a call for sex, you are losing your right to privately answer that call. Not addressing the dirty nature of the way I'm sure these guys replied- if a woman on the street is holding up a sign that she wants to be used for sex, and I guy comes up to her to accept her proposal, or make one himself...he doesn't have a right to sue if that woman turns out to be a man, takes his picture for publication, or denies his advances. It's on the street! And that is basically what the web is. You don't get to hide when you approach a hooker on-line or off.
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