Another one Bites the Dust!

There is an old joke about a history professor who would attempt to show his students the good in every historic event they studied. One day a particularly provocative pupil attempted to stump the professor by raising his hand and asking, “What about Adolf Hitler?” The professor paused a moment and said, “Well there is one commendable thing to say about him, in those last days trapped in his bunker with the Allied forces closing in…”

The class became quiet enough to hear a pin drop and the professor said, “Adolf Hitler will always be remembered as the man who killed Adolf Hitler.”

There is something eerily reminiscent in that morbid joke of certain recent developments in the hemorrhaging wake of the Backpage scandal.

House Resolution H.R. 1865, “The Allow States and Victims To Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act”, was signed into law on April 11th of last year and ever since repercussions have echoed through the seedy world of sex for profit. A popular sex classified website called MassageRepublic said this week that it was shutting down its shameful services in the United States, citing the likelihood that legal challenges would fail to overturn a landmark package of federal sex trafficking laws passed by Congress a year ago.

Of course the decision by MassageRepublic.com is the latest indication that the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (known collectively as FOSTA-SESTA) has made it increasingly difficult for websites selling sex to survive in a climate of higher risk for them.

“When one of these sites shuts down it usually inspires others to shut down,” said Rob Spectre, chief executive of the counter-human trafficking technology company Childsafe.AI. “It’s another signal of the volatility in this market – there are going to be some wild swings ahead this year.”

Readers of this blog will remember FOSTA-SESTA became law mere days after federal law enforcement officials seized backpage.com, the dominant player in the internet sex trafficking and child prostitution market. As of this writing seven people, including the website’s founders, have so far been charged in a 93-count indictment with facilitating prostitution, money laundering and fraud.

“In the current environment, we are not sure that the challenges … to this dumb law will succeed, so have no choice but to suspend service,” the owners of MassageRepublic.com wrote in a blog post explaining the decision.

I guess with no one around like Tony Ortega to defend the illegal sale of sex for cash, shady pimp sites are instead opting to shutter their doors.

And so it is like much Hitler, who proved in the end to be the the only man who could kill Hitler, Tony Ortega by helping Backpage become what it became may have indirectly (and certainly unintentionally!) done some good in the world for once in his sorry career.

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