Have you heard about the butterfly effect? It suggests that even small actions can have drastic effects in the grand schemes of things, such as how a butterfly flapping its wing could lead to a tornado a few weeks later. Something similar happened during March 2018, when the U.S. senate introduced two new bills – FOSTA and SESTA – in order to combat online sex trafficking, prompting popular advertising website Craigslist to remove its personal ads section in fear of being fined.
This section of the site was popular among singles, using it to post free dating ads in the hopes of finding a partner. As such, these government regulations on sex trafficking have led to the closure of a long-standing dating billboard; now that’s a perfect example of the butterfly effect in action.
Goodbye, Craigslist Personal Ads
The personal ads on Craigslist had been around since 1995, long before online dating became a thing. Here, people were provided the opportunity to place anonymous messages looking for short-term or long-term relationships. On one hand this provided singles without movie star looks to hook up with others as the system didn’t require profile pictures or a linked Facebook account. But on the other hand, though, this anonymous nature enabled many risks, proven by the fact that numerous victims were raped, robbed or even killed.
But now a piece of online dating history is gone forever. Even though this feature has officially been relocated to the community forum, it has lost the appeal for most singles. So what can be done about the gap that the personal ad section has left? Well, Craigslist isn’t the only advertisement platform on the internet, but most high-profile sites such as Backpage or Gumtree are also threatened by these regulations. Still, the situation might be a blessing in disguise as it has piqued interest for blockchain technology with dating ads, because the technology is unregulated, untraceable and above all provides absolute anonymity.
Are Dating Sites Good Alternatives?
But how about migrating to a full-fledged dating site? The professional service on offer is definitely a step up when compared to the message board-style interface of Craigslist. The numerous extra features are a boon, too, such as the ability to browse your partner’s profile pictures, read their introduction and see the compatibility index estimated by the matchmaking system. It’s also worth mentioning that dating sites are closely monitored by admins and the additional information gives you a chance to perform a background check on your match, so nasty surprises are easily avoided.
But look at it from another perspective: transparency isn’t always a selling point for some singles. The reason why some prefer to meet others via personal ads is because it has an air of mystery to it, not to mention that most people subscribe to a dating site in order to find a long-lasting relationship while Craigslist was a home for quick flings and one night stands. But don’t be afraid, because online daters will always find a way to land on their feet. Users have already started setting up their own meeting groups on Reddit and Instagram, and there’s bound to be something new in time.
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