For years, craigslist was the online destination for sex trafficking and prostitution., It was also the destination for online predators looking for underage victims. Due to the pressure from legislators, media, and anti-human trafficking advocacy groups, craigslist closed its adult/erotic services section nationwide in 2010. This didn’t stop traffickers or predators as they just moved to craigslist’s personals and casual encounters sections while the majority of traffickers and pimps went to Backpage.
After the passage of FOSTA in 2018, craigslist not only removed their personals section but they removed casual encounters as well. This was basically craigslist’s admission that the personals and casual encounters were being used for predatory purposes. What remained was craigslist’s Missed Connections section. This is where lonely craigslist users post very stalker-like messages about someone they saw in their daily lives but didn’t have the guts to approach them.
People like familiarity, that includes sexual predators. So instead of using the personals or casual encounters sections, they’ve just moved over to the Missed Connections section. For example, take 51-year-old Donald Burnside of Upshur County, West Virginia. He was arrested after allegedly posting an ad on the Missed Connections section of craigslist that said: “Why can’t a guy get a single or married woman to have fun with?” Well, if you’re trolling craigslist for tail that may be part of your problem. Anyway, a 15-year-old girl responded to his ad. When he went to pick the girl up at a local high school West Virginia State Troopers were there waiting to take Burnside into custody.
If that’s not enough for you how about 69-year-old Louis Saldana from Austin, Texas? He was arrested after allegedly responding to a craigslist ad placed by undercover investigators. That ad was looking for responses to “an adult female with an 8th-grade minor child wanting to engage in anatomy tutoring involving sex with the minor.” Saldana is said to have responded in a more than graphic manner. Saldana was also arrested when he arrived at a prearranged meeting place.
Craigslist could correct these situations at any time by either monitoring the Missed Connections section or shutting the section down completely. I guess we’ll have for another federal law to be passed before craigslist ultimately cleans up its act.