PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Prostitution has plagued any number of internet sites in recent years – notably Craigslist – but now the CBS 3 I-Team has found a new hideout for hookers on one of the most widely-used social media sites.
Our exclusive investigation found Twitter is used by call girls all the time as a free way to advertise. A simple search for escorts returns hundreds of tweets. And, there are illicit pictures and lots of links to websites that are so X-rated, we couldn't open them on company computers.
But it goes way beyond that: some prostitutes right in your backyard are even setting up appointments over Twitter, which is used by kids of all ages. The I-Team met up with one prostitute at a motel outside Wilmington, Delaware, having never spoken with her. All our communication was through Twitter.
We met another woman, who calls herself a "goddess" at a Cherry Hill motel after we saw her advertise her availability on Twitter.
She uses Twitter in the same way many prostitutes do: to tell prospective clients, in 140 characters or less, where she is and when she's available. She posted tweets like: "Philly, I'm back for 2 days only" or "One more day til my AC Trip," advising her followers to "book early."
"The chance of running into law enforcement, it's just worth the risk to them," said Mount Laurel Police Detective Ed Pincus of the prostitutes brazenly advertising on Twitter. He says his department – like many others – doesn't have the resources to crack down on all the tawdry Twitterers at Mount Laurel's motels. "We don't have the manpower to be out there doing this non-stop. We could be."
We found pimps on Twitter too, tweeting about "New Girls" or prices. Sometimes the prices are clear, other times it's in code. One tweet read: "115 condoms = $11,500" meaning each visit was $100.
"It gives [prostitutes] that ability to reach their customers immediately," says Rob D'Ovidio, a cyber crime expert at Drexel University. "If it's a slow day, and they want to lure in customers, they can quickly get that blurb out there, half price specials, happy hour specials."
And Twitter is not just free, it might also free-up inhibitions. Setting up an appointment on Twitter, as the I-Team did with the Delaware woman might lure in an otherwise jittery John.
When the I-Team told her we didn't actually have enough money, she wasn't pleased, telling us her rates are "right on my website." And she even sent them to us through Twitter, also posting this tweet after we left: "I'm never taking another appointment over Twitter again. My stupidity. How do you not bring enough money for even a quick visit?"
The I-Team reached out to Twitter last week for comment and again on Monday, and we haven't heard back.
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