Cracker.com.au has been taken down. Cracker was an affiliate website of Backpage. The classified advertising website BP was launched in the United States back in 2004. It was similar to Craigslist and was in fact the second largest such advertisement listing service online. Backpage facilitates listing of all kinds of advertisements including jobs, real estate, automotive and others. In recent years, it had become a gateway for sex workers to list their services through various affiliate sites of Backpage, including the main platform. The listing of adult services, in effect promoting prostitution and helping sex workers find clients online, has been controversial. There were speculations and several reports linking Backpage to facilitating prostitution of minors and there was a possible connection with human trafficking. The adult services section was removed by Backpage from its website in the United States after the intervention of the court in 2017.
Cracker was raided on the 6th of April in 2018 by the FBI and all its affiliated websites were seized. The raid was a collective enforcement action led by the FBI with assistance from the Department of Justice, Postal Inspection Service, Joint Regional Intelligence Center and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigator Division. Carl Ferrer, the CEO of Backpage, has pleaded guilty of facilitating money laundering and prostitution. As a ripple effect, Cracker.com.au which is or was an Australian affiliate website of Cracker has been taken down. The shutdown of Cracker.com.au has effectively rendered thousands of sex workers across Australia unable to advertise their services. Those in the know did not fathom the chain reaction and those who were unaware of the relevant legislation in the United States were in for a surprise. The charges against the CEO Carl Ferrer aside, the raid and seizure of Backpage and its affiliated websites coincides with the implementation of FOSTA-SESTA.
FOSTA-SESTA in the United States
In April this year, the President of the United States Donald Trump signed a bill called FOSTA-SESTA. FOSTA is Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and SESTA is Stop Enabling Sex-Trafficking Act. The objective of the two legislations is to combat online sex trafficking. The aim is to make laws against sex trafficking more stringent, hoping to prevent illegal prostitution and any kind of support lent to people who have been compelled into the sex trade. FOSTA-SESTA should not have had any impact on the laws in Australia but for the affiliation of the online classifieds. For now, sex workers in Australia have limited options to advertise their services and this may compel many to take to the streets.
Unavailability of Cracker.com.au has affected both sex workers and clients. Thousands of tourists and business travelers visiting Australia used Cracker as a reliable medium to find dates across the cities. Australians too used Cracker extensively and now they are left with fewer options. Fortunately, there are alternatives to Cracker.com.au and many are just as effective. The only fillip such websites need is a kind of galvanising of more sex workers onto these platforms and more clients exploring their options at such sites.
The best alternatives for Cracker at the moment are Adult Friend Finder, Ashley Madison, Seeking Arrangement and Out Personals. All these sites have their specializations. They are not identical replicas of Backpage or Cracker as they cater to specific needs of people. Adult Friend Finder is more about finding a date for an evening and possibly a relationship. However, casual hookups are quite common for people finding appropriate dates on the website. Adult Friend Finder is a global website. It is more of a dating site than an advertising or classified service for sex workers but its omnipresence and ease of access certainly make it a viable platform. Out Personals is a really useful platform for gays. This is specifically for gays so heterosexuals will not find their preferred matches.
Ashley Madison is famous and infamous for what it does. It is one of the most discreet sites on the planet. While it does have its fair share of controversy, there is no doubt about the reliability of the platform. Some people may find Ashley Madison to be a little elitist or expensive even but it is a resourceful place if you are looking to advertise your services or if you want some casual sex. Seeking Arrangement is a great alternative, especially for clients who are looking for university students and graduates who offer their services. This does not imply that escorts who are not in universities cannot use this platform. The collective of Adult Friend Finder, Ashley Madison, Seeking Arrangement and Out Personals ensures there are enough alternatives to Cracker.com.au.
As you may be aware that Australia has a thriving escort scene so finding a date is not a problem. However, the escort scene does vary across the major cities and as you move towards the towns and touristy locales throughout the mainland and the island. Prostitution is legal in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Australian Capital Territory. Brothels are illegal in Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania. However, independent escorts and sex workers can operate legally in these states and territories.
Ashley Madison is a fairly better option if you are in any of the major cities. There are more members based in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, Adelaide and Cairns. Out Personals is also useful in these cities. Adult Friend Finder is more widespread in this regard. You can find dates and escorts across these cities and even in the Australian outback. Seeking Arrangements is particularly useful if you happen to be anywhere near a major university.
Canberra in Australian Capital Territory, home to Australian National University; Melbourne in Victoria, home to University of Melbourne and Monash University; Sydney in New South Wales, home to University of New South Wales, University of Sydney and University of Technology; Brisbane in Queensland, home to University of Queensland; Perth in Western Australia, home to University of Western Australia; Adelaide in South Australia, home to University of Adelaide and Newcastle in New South Wales, home to University of Newcastle are some of the best places where you can find Seeking Arrangements to be more helpful.
There will be more alternatives to Cracker.com.au in due course of time, now that a vacuum of sorts has been created by its absence. Till then these platforms can be handy for both escorts and clients. There are of course the traditional mediums of hooking up but the convenience of an online search is definitely something no one can dismiss. There is also a certain degree of discreetness assured by sites like Adult Friend Finder, Seeking Arrangements, Out Personals and Ashley Madison since one does not have to get personally in touch with agents or other facilitators. One can simply directly get in touch with escorts or even their agents while remaining anonymous.
Human trafficking or trafficking for sex in Australia is not as alarming as it is in other countries, including the United States. This is partly a reason why there has been no need for laws such as FOSTA-SESTA in this country. Many Australian escorts or sex workers are into the profession out of their volition and not due to the compulsion of some traffickers or mafia like syndicates. It may take a while for escorts to start exploring alternative platforms but the switch would be expedited since many do not have options other than mediums such as the now shutdown Cracker.