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Back in March, Bumble — the dating app where women are required to send the first message — launched a secondary feature in which users can swipe to make platonic matches with potential friends.It’s called Bumble BFF, and the app’s founder, Whitney Wolfe, described the feature to as one “for girls in cities to find friends.” (The feature is available for both men and women, but based on Wolfe’s description and the BFF Instagram account’s penchant for all things pink and traditionally feminine, it’s pretty clear Bumble BFF is being heavily geared toward women.) “Once selected, you’re shown all other people of the same gender who are also looking for BFFs,” Bumble explains of the feature on its blog.The overwhelmingly negative coverage did not seem to jibe with what she had discovered in her review of hundreds of Craigslist personal ads, posted from 2005 to 2016 in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles."My research shows that most Craigslist sex forum users were normal people seeking to explore their sexual desires with strangers online," she said.The bill will amend the "Good Samaritan" clause in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields websites from liability of content posted by its users.
And even before the internet began connecting LGBT people in novel ways, personal ads had played a significant but little-known role in the history of queer romance: Personal ads allowed same-sex couples to meet covertly while avoiding criminal punishments that could, in some cases, end in death.
This legislation purports to stem the rising tide of online sex trafficking, even as groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union claim it will, in fact, "harm the very people it is intended to protect." And free-speech advocates view the amendment to Section 230 as an "unambiguous chilling of free speech," according to the Center for Democracy & Technology.
But for the majority of LGBT people who have used Craigslist for decades, the deletion of the personals section amounts to the shuttering of yet another queer space - one that provided a free and accessible cyber haven for many wishing to explore their sexuality and gender."People would look at the ads and be shocked by how sexual they were," said syndicated advice columnist Dan Savage, who also has a live "Savage Love" podcast in Madison, Wisconsin.
"There's an exhibitionistic impulse that's met by posting on Craigslist, and certainly a voyeuristic need that's fed by reading it, too," she told me.
Now an assistant professor of communications at California State University at Fullerton, she has continued frequenting the classifieds site - up until last week when Craigslist suddenly axed its personals section.