The new clause states that users may not, “even if it is legal where you are located, create profiles or provide content that promotes escort services or prostitution.”
Along with the likes of extortion, racketeering, manslaughter, Internet crimes, and drunk driving, prostitution is a “skill” that users can add to their profiles. Although it’s officially under the primary industry of law enforcement, it can easily refer to groups and individuals that provide and advertise adult services. People can also endorse you for having these skills.
According to Huffington Post, LinkedIn has always been against publishing unlawful profiles (no, you cannot list yourself as a “drug dealer” on LinkedIn … at least not for long before having your account axed) and the user agreement update simply makes it crystal clearer that prostitution is a practice the company does not tolerate, despite it being legal in many regions all over the world.
Surprised to find out that LinkedIn is being used by sex workers to amass potential clients? A simple search will lead you to a slew of accounts that look like this:
Using professional networking sites like LinkedIn is becoming a more common method used by sex practitioners to promote their services. A month ago, CNNMoney released a feature on “sex entrepreneurs” who efficiently manipulate their online presence in order to snag high wage earners in Silicon Valley. Internet-savvy escorts – just like everyone else – use social media outlets like Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook and apps like Google Voice and Hootsuite alongside having their own website, only they use it to attract affluent clientele from the tech industry.
Although many of LinkedIn’s users would appreciate the more defined user agreement, it can significantly alter the livelihood of those in the adult entertainment industry and may be deemed unfair for those in areas where it is considered a legal form of work. Dennis Hof, owner of Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Mound House, Nevada, told Huffington Post that the change is unreasonable because despite the nature of his business, he still abides by the law (regulated prostitution is legal in parts of Nevada). “Are you then going to shut down Steve Wynn’s casino in Vegas, where gambling is legal? Don’t paint me the same as the people who are doing things illegally,” said Hof. Although he understands why the change was needed, Hof thinks it should be modified further to target human traffickers and exclude legal sex workers.