from the as-long-as-it-is-not-encrypted dept.
[A] Melbourne-based company Assembly Four created Switter after its founders learned that social media platforms were either removing sex workers' content or banning their accounts. Without the time or resources to build a whole new network from scratch, the group turned to Mastodon.
Sex workers are running out of safe online spaces. Craigslist is no longer displaying personal ads. The controversial classifieds site Backpage, which many escorts used to screen clients, has been seized by the FBI. Adult content is disappearing off Google Drive, and many sex workers say they're being forced off social media. With the news that President Trump has signed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), their options will continue to dwindle — and with it, the ability for many sex workers to pay their bills, let alone do so safely.
Over the past few weeks, sex workers have been turning to an unexpected platform to remain online: the social network Mastodon, under a new instance called "Switter." Melbourne-based company Assembly Four created Switter after its founders learned that social media platforms were either removing sex workers' content or banning their accounts. Without the time or resources to build a whole new network from scratch, the group turned to Mastodon.
Although ostensibly aimed at sex trafficking prevention, FOSTA's reduction of legal protections for websites is having disastrous consequences for sex workers. Faced with the new potential for litigation, many websites are removing any content or avenues that could possibly violate FOSTA. It's disconnecting many of the most vulnerable sex workers from crucial resources.
[...] Switter may offer a temporary salve for the community, yet sex workers say it cannot stand as a last bastion, an end-all be-all answer for their profession. Assembly Four says it's prepared to continue working to make it a safe destination for sex workers, but that they need real change.
"The best-case scenario would be the opposite," says Hunt. "The best-case scenario would be if we didn't need to have safe spaces, if public spaces were somewhere we were accepted."