Craigslist may be an okay venue for selling an old beater car or a worn-out couch, though we’d advise you to avoid it for that too; but meeting a stranger from there is literally taking your life in your hands. Just as you wouldn’t pose naked in a pink feather boa in the ad for the aforementioned couch or car; as besides it not being allowed, it would attract unwanted attention from the lowlifes who inhabit our society. Well, those same lowlifes are just two clicks away from your ad in the personals section. Why would you be giving people like this the chance to take a run at you?
We all suffer from a faulty and completely imagined separation on our minds between the everyday uses of craigslist for selling old junk and looking for jobs and the section that features your explicit ad offering homosexual sex acts, but in reality its all the same wide-open anonymous system with no barrier to entry. Closeted homophobes looking to prove their manhood to themselves and/or their peers, religious nut-jobs looking to be the instrument of their god’s wrath, the under age, thieves, blackmailers, internet scammers on phishing expeditions, and of course serial killers have made craigslist to be their go-to source for victims. The situation has gotten to be so out of hand that only the latest craigslist serial killer gets any press these days, and the “normal” victimization of craigslist users is ignored as too common to report on.
What craigslist has going for it is that it’s free, but we’d argue that that is too expensive given the proven risks of posting personal ads there. We all would prefer that dating sites were completely free, but in fact it’s the very fact that there’s a fee involved that makes using a pay site so much safer than craigslist. On most of the gay dating sites a payment is required, usually with a checking account or credit card, and while the payment information is held by a trusted third party billing organization, an electronic paper trail is created that links a biological human to the electronic transaction. Now under normal circumstances all of this data is held in confidence, but in an investigation of a crime all of this would be available to the investigating authorities.
The amount of effort required to get on a dating site, upload pictures and provide credit card information, screens out the random crazies, drunk and punchy frat boys, and other miscreants who are only online looking to make your life miserable. Sure if someone set their mind to it they could use a stolen card, fake their IP address, and do a number of things to otherwise hide their identity, but it carries risk, and why would they, when there’s a pool of victims just two clicks away on craigslist.
In a perfect world, articles like this wouldn’t be necessary, but we’re not living in that world. When you think about it, spending literally pennies a day to meet like-minded gay men who have also seen fit to spend pennies a day to fund a forum to meet YOU – that provides a traceable trail that should keep the crazies away – may very well be one of the biggest bargains out there. Now this isn’t to say that common sense will always prevail when using an online dating site. We’ve all gotten messages from scammers that were too good to be real, that turned out to be false, but you’ll also notice that those profiles are removed quite expeditiously from the sites as soon as they are reported, because safety of a site’s membership is of utmost importance to the owners of the site.