Craigslist announced last week that it would cease hosting personal ads of any kind, in response to FOSTA (a.k.a. FOSTA-SESTA), a bill allegedly designed to curb sex trafficking, but in reality a dangerous scam that will harm consenting sex workers, according the EFF, the ACLU and the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Craigslist has been in operation since 1995.
Prior to FOSTA’s passage, Pounced.org was, as pseudonymous legal commentator “BoozyBarrister” wrote Friday , “a free furry personals site where furries could go and put up personal ads to look for friends, lovers, what have you.”
“[Furries would] make a profile and list personal ads, which were then searchable by other furries, and would make connections with each other through the site. Think of it like EHarmony, but a little stranger and a lot fluffier. It launched in 2003, and since that time was apparently the progenitor of many a happy (and no doubt quite a few unhappy) furry relationships. In short, it was a nice little corner of the furry fandom where folks could meet each other.
Oh, that’s neat. What happened to it?
Congress shut down a furry dating site?
Yeah. I mean, it’s not like that was their specific intent. Nobody in Congress was cruising the internet one day and came across Pounced.org and say “oWo, what’s this? I’m gonna make a profile! What’s that? Nobody’s responding to my ad for a hung taur looking for yiff and scritches in the D.C. area? THIS IS A BLIGHT ON SOCIETY AND MUST BE STOPPED!”
Actually, you know what? That could be exactly what happened. We don’t know. Maybe there’s a really pissed off raccoon sitting in the Senate right now who just needed a little love, but they didn’t sell the bill as a way to stop furries from finding love and friendship (trust me, you guys do that well enough on your own from some of the shit I’ve seen on FurAffinity). They sold it as a way to stop sex trafficking.
As Motherboard/Vice opines:
In the grand scheme of the internet, the shutdown of a furry dating site is fairly niche (there were around 87,000 users on the site before it closed, according to a screenshot posted to the site now) but it’s another example, along with several sex work-focused forums and Craigslist personals, of how small websites, even ones without an explicit intention of advertising escort services or advertising sex work, can be crushed by this bill.
And anyway, furries practically built the internet. They didn’t deserve this.
Pounced.org posted an explanation to its users:
FOSTA “makes sites operated by small organizations like pounced.org much riskier to operate. FOSTA essentially says that if we facilitate the prostitution of another person we’re liable. If you read FOSTA carefully the bill says “or facilitate” – the problem is that “or facilitate” is ill-defined.”
Moreover, sex work isn’t illegal everywhere, and the world of furries is international. Now international fans are being affected by American politics.
As a post on Dogwatch Press notes:
It’s . . . a website suffering for one narrow use, [and] all users are affected. Nobody wants trafficking abuse, but the law is comparable to using a bazooka to kill a mosquito – plus anti-free-speech, anti-business, and intrusively paternal.
“This is like a perfect example of ‘chilling effect’ by making it impossible for people to proceed with protected speech.” – Crissa Kentavr
FOSTA is seriously [email protected]