Yes, it’s Social Media Week in Hong Kong. No, this post is not about that.
Craig’s List was famous for many things, one of which was its Adult Services section, which was basically filled with ads for prostitutes. After a lot of pressure from different groups, Craig’s List shut down the Adult Services section last year. They still have a Casual Encounters sub-section in their Personals section. (These are all from current posts for Hong Kong. ”I’m a bigger gal with special skills and a tongue ring.” ”Fancy to get massage from an attractive office lady?” “We will be out in Wanchai, we are hot, sexy and fun ladies.” “I am used to my requests being met. Not for weak willed persons. Best that you are submissive.”)
So what can a poor ho’ do? Facebook!
Both CNet and TechDirt are reporting on a study by Columbia University Professor Sudhir Venkatesh published in Wired stating that Facebook has become the new preferred online home for prostitutes. Dr. Venkatesh’s report, titled How Tech Tools Transformed New York’s Sex Trade, obviously focuses in on New York City and yet probably holds true for many other places.
I followed 290 women, 170 of whom made enough (at least $30,000) to separate them from streetwalkers. I spent at least 12 months earning their trust, trying not to ask a lot of prying questions.
All right, the guy says he followed 290 hookers for a year. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse. Get over it. It’s a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it, right?
Of the women I talked to, 61 percent said they’ve used craigslist, mostly for advertising. But even before the crackdown on the site’s adult-services section, sex workers were turning to Facebook: 83 percent have a Facebook page, and I estimate that by the end of 2011, Facebook will be the leading on-line recruitment space.
His figures show Craig’s List as the source of 9 percent of their clients in 2003. In 2010, Craig’s List was just 3% and Facebook (which didn’t exist in 2003) represents 25%. As you can see, he expects that figure will continue to, ahem, grow.
Some other interesting bits of information in the study.
“You’ll make about 50 percent more with a good boob job,” one woman said. Other things that can increase a sex worker’s earning power:
1. Dying her hair blond. 2. Befriending hotel clerks to obtain free room upgrades to suites. 3. BlackBerrys. To clients, this symbol of professional life suggests the worker is drug- and disease-free.
70% of sex workers polled use a Blackberry; only 19% use an iPhone. Perhaps Apple needs to rethink its App Store policies if it wants to gain a larger market share here.