Advertising platforms

What is it?

Can you imagine a time when sex workers worked without the Internet? There were ample opportunities to find a place to work. You were your own "ad" by being visible in the window or the street (you can still do that but there are far fewer workplaces). Or the operator (escort, club, private house, erotic massage) placed expensive ads in the Yellow Pages or the newspaper, like the Speurders in the Telegraph. By the way, the erotic ads are no longer accepted in the Telegraph.

Once everyone started using the Internet, an opportunity came along. You could advertise for yourself and customers could find your advertisement. The legislation that came into effect in 2000 (the lifting of the brothel ban) did not provide for this at all! That is why it is often so unclear what the situation is with working independently (escort or home receiving) in a municipality and whether you need a permit for that. Actually, a permit is meant for the exploitation of sex work, because you cannot exploit yourself.

It is easily said that this is the illegal part of sex work, but that is definitely not always true. Tax-paying sex workers with a Chamber of Commerce number are also on the advertising platforms. You could call them unlicensed at best. Even stronger, there are also licensed sex workers on there (with their own escort license).


What can it mean for a sex worker?

The advantages of working independently can be great. You are not dependent on an operator, who can sometimes find something about gender, physique, skin color, age, or what you want to offer a client. On the Internet, because of the large customer base, there is a market for every "niche.

Also, an ad is quick and easy to set up. But after that, the real work begins. The customer contacts take a lot of time, you also get stupid messages, and you are offered vague deals and drugs. And you have to decide for yourself whether you are up for it with a customer, and therefore use the Internet well to screen a customer.

You are much more visible as a result. For malicious people who misuse your number or photos. For the police, the municipality and the emergency services who sometimes take your information away by means of webscraping. Justice may also seize data from the advertising platform.

As the WRS gets through, by the way, you are only allowed to advertise with a registration number.


What can you do?

Ask yourself if you want to be on the site with a recognizable face. These days there is powerful facial recognition software  available. With this, a picture of your face can also be used to bring up other pictures to which your real name could be linked. You could also "blur" your face. There are simple apps for that (search for 'blurring' in the Play store or the App store).

Ask yourself which platforms you want to advertise on. Especially whether you want to agree to the online identification process. You may have to send a picture of your face and possibly another copy of your passport. This can always fall into the hands of the wrong people (incl. the government). Of course, ad platforms also have to keep out the fake and scam accounts, but the general feeling among sex workers is that the balance of power has been tipped to the platforms. Sex workers feel that their complaints are not heard, but how do these fake accounts get through the screening?