Pounced.org offline due to controversial sex-trafficking bill
Similar to Craiglist's decision to shut down its personal ads section, Dallas-Fort Worth-hosted furry dating service Pounced.org is down, pending interpretation of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which passed the U.S. Senate Wednesday.
FOSTA is intended to assist victims of sex trafficking, by allowing them to sue websites that facilitated their abuse. This gives previously undue liability to the platform for actions and content of third-party users; so Pounced.org is shutting down as a preventive measure while Kelar, the site's founder, seeks legal counsel.
The website, launched 15 years ago this month, hosted more than 13,000 ads from furries seeking friends, dates, or casual encounters within the fandom. Visitors are now directed to criticism of the bill from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization.
Update 03/26/18: The message on Pounced.org has been updated. Users can now read a much more in-depth explanation of the motivation for the shut-down, and concerns over the meaning of the bill:
We don't promote prostitution or sex trafficking. We're a personals site for the furry community, our goal was to allow members of our community to have a personals site dedicated solely to the community, and we've tried to serve our community well.
The problem is, with limited resources and a small volunteer staff, our risk for operating the site has now significantly increased. Now if someone posts an ad looking to exchange sex for something to pounced.org, and we don't catch it, is that facilitating prostitution? Is it enough to simply re-train our volunteer staff and update our terms of service?
The update also comes with an assurance that an individual's user data will be somehow made available to that person, before member data is destroyed.