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NY hookers cross street from Craigslist to Facebook

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New York prostitutes are increasingly plying their trade using Facebook instead of Craigslist, following the latter's exit from the adult services business last year.

A study by sociology professor Sudhir Venkatesh on trends in the world's oldest profession, published by Wired, estimated that 25 percent of hookers' regular clients came through Facebook compared to only three per cent through Craigslist.

Five years before that, in 2003, nine per cent of the prostitutes regular clients came through Craiglist and none through the then infant Facebook.

"Even before the crackdown on [Craigslist's] adult-services section, sex workers were turning to Facebook: 83 per cent have a Facebook page, and I estimate that by the end of 2011, Facebook will be the leading on-line recruitment space," Venkatesh writes.

The professor doesn't explain how connections are made with hookers on Facebook. The social network doesn't run an adult-services section, of course, and it might be assumed that such connections that are made are done discreetly.

Venkatesh, who lectures at Columbia University, "followed" (as he rather indelicately puts it) 290 female sex workers, 170 of whom made $30,000 or more, enough to separate them from streetwalkers, during his research. He found that technology played a key role in helping hookers to "control their image, set their prices, and sidestep some of the pimps, madams, and other intermediaries who once took a share of the revenue".

Curiously, he found one of the three main ways a sex worker can boost her earning potential is not to get a boob job but to buy a BlackBerry. "This symbol of professional life suggests the worker is drug- and disease-free," Venkatesh explains.

Of prostitutes that own a smartphone, 70 per cent have BlackBerries while just 11 per cent own iPhones. Feel free to write your own hilarious jokes using that information. ®

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