If you’re seeking a no-strings attached sexual encounter – and thousands of people are – then there are worse places to look than the casual encounters section of sites like Craigslist or Gumtree.

They offer anonymous users to post and respond to ads and, one gathers from the huge number of ads looking for the widest range of partners, pairings and “activities” imagineable, are quite popular. It also seemed like, up until last week, quite a safe and discreet way for people to pursue their sexual fantasies, affairs and casual encounters.

What changed? Last week, Jason Fortuny started an “experiment” of posting ads as bait then republishing the responses he gets, along with email addresses, contact telephone numbers and photos. A number of the people who emailed him in response to his ads are married or in relationships and most of the others I’d suspect don’t really want their friends, families, and colleagues knowing they were posting or replying to sex wanted ads.

And there’s the rub – most of the people that Jason has exposed for whatever reason it is he did this (looking at his LiveJournal site, I reckon it’s simply to get some attention) are likely to be completely innocent of any legal or, so long as you’re fairly liberal and open minded about the idea that people can and do have casual sexual encounters, moral wrongdoing.

What Fortuny has done is attack the trust between users that is necessary for sites like craigslist to function as a community. It will be interesting to see how the casual encounters communities defend themselves against what they probably view as unfair attacks like this in future. [Meanwhile... Craigslist saw it's traffic increase by 99% on last year.]

(There’s more on this story at waxy.org)

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Cybersoc by Robin Hamman
With over 13 years of professional experience in the digital and social media industry, and a client portfolio that includes some of the World's most recognisable brands and organisations, I've built a reputation internationally as a leading practitioner in the industry.

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About Robin Hamman

I've been helping some of the World's most widely recognised brands and organisations devise and implement strategic digital and social media programmes since 1999.

I'm currently the EMEA Digital Network Lead at Fleishman Hillard. I've previously held a variety of roles including Managing Director of Dachis Group Europe, Director of Digital at Edelman, Head of Social Media at Headshift, Acting Editor of the BBC Blogs and Executive Producer at ITV.

In addition to my day job, I help my wife run an online retail business selling wool blankets - if you're feeling chilly, check out JustSheep.co.uk

I hold a BA in Education, MA in Sociology, MPhil in Communication Studies and a PgDip in Law. I've also been a Non-Residential Fellow at Stanford University Law School and a Visiting Fellow of Journalism at City University, London.

Why cybersoc.com? In 1995, I tried to register, for the purposes of researching "ordinary users", the username Cybersociologist on AOL. They truncated my name and I stuck with it....

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