Before the passage of FOSTA (Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) earlier this year, critics had warned that it could put sex workers at risk. The law was meant to deter internet sex trafficking by targeting online content that promotes or facilitates prostitution (think Backpage.com), making it punishable by up to 10 years in prison, according to the text. However, sex work and trafficking are not the same thing, and sex workers frequently use internet sites like Twitter to share useful and potentially life-saving information online that can protect a vulnerable community.
In the wake of FOSTA becoming law, sex workers are reportedly leaving Twitter, where they no longer feel able to speak freely. Instead, they are moving to Switter.at, an Austrian service. Why Austria? Prostitution is legal in Austria, and sex workers can ply their trade without breaking any laws.
Switter bills itself as “a sex work-friendly social space” and an ethical escort platform, which is run by sex workers in conjunction with Assembly Four, an Australia-based organization that builds technology for sex workers. It works similarly to TweetDeck, but is specifically designed for people in the sex community to connect and interact with each other, so clients and providers can post and respond to ads, network, and chat privately.
As USA Today reported today, the company has over 100,000 escorts and allies on its site now, and continues to grow every month.