Facebook is good for a lot of things--stalking old boyfriends, stalking new crushes, ruining your marriage, and apparently prostitution.
With the Craigslist crackdown on prostitution ads, the number of prostitutes using Facebook has grown. In fact, in a study of prostitutes and social media printed in Wired, a Columbia University professor found that 83% of prostitutes use Facebook to grow and advertise their business. He predicts that by the end of 2011, it will be the number one site for those seeking to advertise their services.
Facebook prostitution may be against the social network's terms of service, but it is also improving prostitutes' service. Men don't want to drive through seedy areas of town while leaning out their windows, according to the study. They're looking for something a bit more discreet and professional. And professional is the embodiment of Facebook prostitution.
Prostitutes using Facebook "can control their image, set their prices, and sidestep some of the pimps, madams, and other intermediaries who once took a share of the revenue." The study notes that this has also made the trade safer and more lucrative for women.
Despite the positives for women who live a life of prostitution (and the men who
love use them), the use of Facebook brings another dimension to the crime should one get caught. Prostitutes using Facebook are not only running afoul of state laws, but are also violating federal law.
The Internet is considered an instrument of interstate commerce, and is thus subject to Congressional control. Congress has specifically outlawed the use of an instrument of interstate commerce with the intent to facilitate, promote, or carry on an illegal activity. This applies to prostitution.
It's also against federal law to entice someone to cross state lines for the purpose of engaging in prostitution--something much more likely to happen with Facebook prostitution. The first of these offenses carries a sentence of 5 years; the second 20. Prostitutes using Facebook no longer just face a night in jail.