In 1994, Andrew Conru created the first online dating site, WebPersonals. After selling that site in 1995, he launched FriendFinder.com, an early social networking site, in 1996. Days after the site went live, Conru found that people were posting naked pictures of themselves and seeking partners for adult-oriented activities. As a result, Conru started Adult FriendFinder, which he described as "a release valve". FriendFinder has since established other niche dating sites, including Senior FriendFinder, Amigos.com, BigChurch.com, and Alt.com.
Objective, non-emotional answer: Where will past users of Craigslist personals now go? Probably OkCupid or Bumble. I think that these two platforms have very much established themselves as data-based, efficient modes of matching. As they have gained popularity over the past few years, I think that they have cut into Craigslist’s market share - since Craigslist is essentially just a newsgroup that doesn’t offer a whole lot of functionality. Accordingly, I don’t think that this closure will displace a lot of folks.
Craigslist pulled its Personals section in response to the combined Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act that Congress passed back in March 2018. That law makes websites criminally and civilly liable for any misuse of personal ads by their users. The Missed Connections community lives on, though, under the Craigslist Community section.
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He estimates that he would answer hundreds of ads, which might net about 10 replies, which might then lead to one in-person interaction. That’s a LOT of email. But the encounters were memorable. “Usually the person I would meet would be someone unattractive or would have weird tendencies,” he says. In one encounter, a woman insisted on having porn blasting the entire time. Another made him put on a blindfold the moment he arrived. “She was going to have sex with me, but I wasn’t allowed to touch her,” he recalls.
There’s a reason Yahoo! Personals merged with Match — it’s the world’s premier dating site. Launched in 1995, Match was the first online dating service to ever exist, and it has remained at the top of the heap ever since. Match has 30 million+ members and has led to more first dates, second dates, relationships, and marriages than any of its competitors. Plus, did we mention it’s free to register, upload pictures, search through members, view profiles, receive matches, and communicate via likes and limited messages?
What is a note about happy couples doing in a move made in response to a bill to fight sex trafficking? Well, this is the vast possibility and danger of Craigslist. For decades, it’s been the place where someone might find the perfect or most horrible roommate; a steal of a couch or total piece of junk; casual sex or even a spouse. One of my oldest childhood friends, for example, posted a Craigslist ad back in the mid-2000s and met her husband. Now they’re expecting their second child!
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Obligatory sentimental preamble (and I don’t care if it gets me downvoted): As soon as I received the A2A notification from Darren Johnson on my phone, my heart dropped… and as soon as I clicked on the link and saw that this was, in fact true, I felt some kind of activity in my tear ducts. I wasn’t quite on the verge of tears. But like, 15% of the way to being on the verge? I haven’t been on Craigslist personals in years. However, I met my first love on Craigslist personals - and the way in which meeting someone on Craigslist is just so laughable to most people has always been somewhat of a running joke between us.