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As an open-source platform, Mastodon mimics the look and function of Twitter.
Rather than rely on a single flagship site, however, it functions through a series of networks called instances.
“The ability to communicate and share information with your peers is absolutely critical in the modern age,” says J, an Assembly Four employee who goes by a single-letter handle.
“With FOSTA already having wide-reaching effects, we realised that we needed to come up with a safe place for sex workers to communicate, and fast.” Switter isn’t the only off-shore server resource for sex workers, but unlike many others, it is free.
“It’s very frustrating, to be targeted like that,” Buffy says.
“Switter is a safe space, one where I don’t have to dance around the word ‘escort’ or pretend I’m something I’m not.
Instead, sex workers will be driven to the streets, she says, and may even lose their ability to do their work independently.
As online options are vanishing, Rhee says she’s received solicitations from services offering to help her get clients.
“When we’re censored on platforms, it sends the message to the general public that sex work is a mostly negative thing in society and NEEDED to be removed,” she tells via email. is now one of the only countries [where] you can legally buy multiple firearms, which can kill someone, without a license, but you could be charged for carrying condoms,” she says.
Without the time or resources to build a whole new network from scratch, the group turned to Mastodon.
Although ostensibly aimed at sex trafficking prevention, FOSTA’s reduction of legal protections for websites is having disastrous consequences for sex workers.
Lumping “paid sexual services” into the same category as guns and drugs, she says, is only furthering the idea that paying for sex is an immoral act. Furthermore, driving sex workers off mainstream sites like Reddit, Craigslist, or Skype means pushing them away from resources that Hunt says are absolutely vital.
“This will only force many more workers into the hands of exploitation and street work, as they will no longer have access to these resources,” she says.
“They see this as an opportunity to essentially be pimps,” she says.