A social media platform for sex workers with close to half a million users globally has shut down over legal concerns regarding online safety laws and the Australian government's social media defamation legislation.
Switter, which runs on
Twitter-replica Mastodon, was set up by an Australian collective of sex workers and technologists, Assembly Four, in 2018 in response to the anti-sex trafficking legislation known as Sesta/Fosta in the United States.
Switter works as a safe space
by, and for, sex workers, with little concern that their content or accounts will be censored. On the site, sex workers can find each other, share safety information, find clients and find out legal information or service availability.
the managers of the site have announced that they had decided to shut down immediately, telling its more than 420,000 users the raft of online safety and defamation laws in the US, UK and Australia made it difficult to keep the platform running. A letter
from the management explains:
Another concern leading to the shut down is the prospect of the Australian government's so-called social media anti-trolling legislation. The legislation, which will make platforms
liable for defamation if they do not help to unmask an account making defamatory comments, would place a platform like Switter in the position of potentially having sex workers or their clients' anonymity removed in a time when they can still face
discrimination from banks, housing and other institutions for the work.
The recent anti-sex work and anti-LGBTQIA+ legislative changes not only in Australia, but in the UK, US and other jurisdictions have made it impossible for us to appropriately and
ethically maintain compliance over 420,690+ users,.