Craiglist traffic fell sharply after FOSTA

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/05/21/craiglist-traffic-fell-sharply.html

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While I have no doubt that traffic to craigslist dropped once they deleted the “Casual Encounters” section, there are some things to keep in mind when looking at this analysis:

  1. Despite how the redditor writes about it, the Google Trends data is not the same thing as web traffic. Google Trends indicates how much a term was searched, not how much a website was visited. To confuse these two things is a major mistake. Google Trends doesn’t even make any connection between the search term “craigslist” and the website craigslist.com—to Google Trends, it’s just another search term. I doubt most people visiting craigslist google it to get there, rather than enter the URL into browser. However, search can be a somewhat useful proxy measurement.

  2. Another thing to keep in mind is that Craigslist’s “Casual Encounters” traffic was not exclusively about transactional encounters, unlike the “Adult Services” section of Backpage.com; i.e., it’s wrong to assume that the traffic lost after FOSTA was traffic soley for the purpose of hiring trafficked sex workers. There’s diversity in that traffic that isn’t considered in the reddit post.

I think it’s safe to say that this redditor’s analysis lacks rigor, though it does point to something that is likely an actual trend.

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To a server not hosted in the U.S.
That’s really all it takes and is why FOSTA is a complete joke.

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That’s not “sharply,” it’s just “BoingBoing sharply.”

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Yes! Thank you! I find this sort of click-bait titling to be infuriating: it heavily slants a viewpoint towards “inciting” rather than “informing”.

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I have mixed feelings about this: as someone who got a few dates of off CL, I was sorry to see it go, but without proper policing, it was getting to be an utter shitshow. Want to find a group of poker players? You’ve got to plow through a huge festering pile of thinly veiled prostitution-posts before giving up. Don’t even get me started on the actual dating sections, it was all tainted so badly that any real, genuine need for a normal date would have next to zero hope of being fulfilled.

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Google Trends is noting an uptick in “Boing Boing Disappointment” :wink:

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Put me on the list I double-dog dare you!

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That’s why it needed an actual “hookups” section, a containment zone for those sort of posts.

I’m curious if anybody has found statistics on how much FOSTA has reduced sex trafficking? There should be police records that show how effective this law has been. I’d like to think that the lawmakers that passed it would be interested in how much it has improved society.

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Many, many people have Google as their home page or otherwise use google search to get to any given website.

Want to go to Yahoo? Type “Yahoo” into Google and click the link. Bank? Yelp? Same thing.

It’s not a perfect measure but I think it’s fair to say the general trend (less traffic after FOSTA) is true

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Like before there was CL or FOSTA.

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Some of the traffic remains, just in other sections. Here in Montreal, at least, about t time of the Big Shutdown, they shifted “rants & raves” and “missed connections” to “community” but then a bit later the “personals” section disappeared, I think two or three weeks ago.

So some of the post have landed in “community” mostly not even trying to fit in. Someone at least tried, a vague “missed connection” ruined by “or anyone else wanting sex”. It’s mostly from men, who apparently can’t keep it zipped, but a female hookers (so I suspect some of the males are hookers). There’s no real pattern, it’s not like couples are posting in “group activities”. It’s mostly in “missed connections” and “rants & raves” which were already being hit before, I assumed some were just careless and by mistake, but it happened too often to not be deliberate for some, I assume hoping for better success away from the competition.

But it’s not fair. What fit in “personals” doesn’t fit in more general places, even apart from them now being more likely seen by children. It’s terribly mercenary, even when there were personals an out of place ad made the poster look foolish. Having wiped out such ads in the local 'alt weeklies", wait the alt weeklies are gone now, this us a loss, but I sure don’t like the ads in the wrong place now. I’ve licked 1472 as “prohibited” in just a couple of months.

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but how do you find out where to go for casual encounters? I mean…really please let me… joking…(not really).

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The “missed connections” section seems like it could be hilarious.

Missed connection: Woman with bodacious body that wants to “party”. You dropped $500 walking down the street and I’d like to return it…

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I think you are mistaken there. Lots of people have google as their default search engine. The don’t type craigslist.com into the address bar (they don’t even know what an ‘address bar’ is, you i.t. nerds with your fancy words…). They just type in craigslist and hit enter (or more likely switch to the mouse to click the arrow). Since ‘craigslist’ is no a valid url, it gets sent to the default search engine and the first result loaded.

A completely anecdotal unscientific ‘survey’ of my immediate surroundings puts the percentage of people using their browser in this way around 50%.

I think the search-volume on the term ‘craigslist’ is 99% people just trying to visit craigslist.com and 1% actualy ‘searching’ for craigslist.

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I dunno, I’ve seen a few folks trolling regional reddit groups looking for sex, and that’s new in the same time frame.

So, if we could arrange for those guys to find with those servers, that’d be great for the vibe of regional reddit groups.

Here’s another possibility…since that time, Craigslist has added a posting “feature” that requires a US, UK, Canada, or Austrailian phone number to confirm one’s post. Although my business is done in San Diego, I lay my head in Tijuana, and the telcoms won’t let me have a US number for an extended period of time.
I’m sure the phone confirmation accounts for some traffic lost.

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And it would be wrong to assume that Adult Services were
solely for the purpose of hiring trafficked sex workers.

This whole debate (debacle?) has resulted in too many people falsely conflating prostitute with trafficked. Craigslist and backpage were geared towards self employed independent contractors who managed themselves. The trafficked usually work for businesses like “massage parlors” that buy ads, have storefronts, yellow page listings, or other ways of finding customers besides online.

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While I admire your snark, the law is barely a month old, which is probably a bit soon for that kind of analysis?

You’re joking but it has changed the traffic on other sites. Doublelist is trying to fill the gap but is not meeting expectations. Reddit’s r4r sections both in general and by city has turned into a mess of (mostly) men in their 20’s looking for hookups.