A provocative new study on the underground commercial sex industry in eight major U.S. cities has revealed Myspace's alleged growing use by johns and clients seeking sex.
The report released by the Urban Institute Wednesday paints Myspace as one of the more popular sites used to solicit sex, with its online services allegedly not only helping mask the illegal activity but geographically expanding it.
"Myspace, all that, it's just a disguise," one unidentified worker said in the study. "There are so many ways to sell [sex] and they are thinking of new things now."
The study, using interviews from pimps, traffickers, sex workers, child pornographers, and law enforcement, focuses on the cities of Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington, D.C.
But the scenarios described by those involved aren't entirely confined by these geographical borders. On Myspace, for instance, it's described as a whole different playing field, with one pimp once allegedly starting a kind of turf war between the others.
"Once he was on the Internet, Myspace was big, maybe 20-30 guys [other pimps] he was talking to … He'd make someone think they're friends, then he'd try and get their girls. [He was a] mass manipulator," the pimp said.
According to the sex workers interviewed, Myspace — once the most visited social networking site in the world — today joins the ranks of Craigslist, Backpage.com, Adam4Ada.com, Eros.com, AdultSearch.com, TheEroticReview.com, and Cityvibe.com for soliciting clients.
Of 11 sites mentioned by 13 of 36 sex workers who reported using the internet to solicit clients, the most popular was Backpage, followed by Craigslist and Eros.
Any surprise to Myspace's growing popularity was shared by a Dallas law enforcement official.
"One of the other things is the Myspace, and MocoSpace. Believe it or not, people still use them, and the ones that are using them are usually younger, and pimps are on there like crazy," the official said.
In one recent instance, the official described a young girl at a police station as showcasing her very own website to officers that featured photos of her in a thong and a little top.
"I'm like, 'OK, and who put these on?'" the official recalled. "She says, 'Oh I did.' She goes, 'Yeah, this is a hook-up site.' That's what she was using as a hook-up site."
One worker described these growing trends as an Internet takeover.
"The economy is out of control now. Way bigger than the '90s," they said. "We got Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, all this for pimps and for people, not just [for advertising] hos, but for merchandise."
Such merchandise, they described for example, would be the production of videos.
ONTD, have you ever solicited sex online?