Just because you’re a prostitute doesn’t mean you’re on Facebook, and just because you’re on Facebook doesn’t mean you’re a prostitute (it doesn’t!), but there does seem to be a link between the two, at least according to a sociology professor at Columbia. Sudhir Venkatesh says that 25 percent of prostitutes’ clients are found through Zuckerberg’s social networking site. This info comes in the latest issue of Wired, which also pointed out, as we mentioned last week, that Murray Hill and Midtown are NYC’s primary prostitute stomping grounds. Along with, it seems, Facebook.
Why Facebook? Well, Craigslist no longer offers “Erotic Services,” and, of course, even if it did, everybody’s wary of a Craigslist serial killer. Facebook cuts out the middle man, is more “branding” friendly, and, at the end of the day, practically everybody except for those last few hold-outs who wouldn’t know what to do with a hooker anyway are on it. Venkatesh expects Facebook to be the “leading on-line recruitment space,” for working girls by year’s end.
Via Fox News,
Paul Browne, a spokesman for the New York City Police Department, was hesitant to agree with Venkatesh’s findings.
“It’s hard to measure a universe of activity,” he told FoxNews.com. “Sure, it’s intuitive to assume that, like in any other enterprise these days, the Internet is going to take a certain percentage of a business that was normally done without it.”
“But whether it’s that percentage, in an illicit trade to begin with, is very, very hard to tell,” Browne said.
Which kinda sounds like the point. Facebook, for now at least, may be a harder place for prostitutes to get caught than on the streets, not least because it may be a harder place to find them (no clear escorts section, even non-pros have sexy photos, etc.). That is, as long as they can make it through the sign-up process and don’t get busted by Facebook and disabled after the fact. (True story: With the last name “Doll,” I was blocked and had to write in for special permission. I got it.)
Now, speaking of virtual “corners,” what do prostitutes think about Twitter? Tweet me!