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Updated LinkedIn user agreement prohibits 'escort services or prostitution,' even where legal

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LinkedIn has set itself up as one of the premiere sites for professionals to connect and look for employment, but one controversial category of workers appears to be getting the cold shoulder: sex workers are now prohibited from using the service to advertise their wares or their experience. This new restriction appears to cover both larger agencies like VIP escort services as well as individual workers. The change comes through an update to LinkedIn's user agreement that rolled out last week; it now states that "even if it is legal where you are located, [users may not] create profiles or provide content that promotes escort services or prostitution." It appears that even those whose sex-related careers are legal, LinkedIn doesn't want to promote such content on its site.

"There really is no story here," Doug Madey, an associate at LinkedIn's Corporate Communications, told The Daily Dot. "Here's the reality-we have always prohibited these kinds of profiles. The recent change in our UA just makes it more explicitly prohibited." Previously, the LinkedIn TOS covered the area of prostitution by a clause saying the service couldn't be used to promote anything "unlawful," but now the new language accounts for the fact these services aren't illegal everywhere.

Unsurprisingly, there's been a bit of an online backlash from sex workers who used the site to connect with clients — and there's a sense of discrimination because of the more risqué nature of their businesses. "I'm fully legal," says Madison Graham, a prostitute at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch North in Carson City NV. "I'm a legal business, and I should be treated with the same respect as any other legal business." But as a private site, LinkedIn is well within its rights to make these decisions, and it's not really a change from its earlier policy. "To be totally clear, our policy has not changed," Madey said. "We didn't allow profiles to promote these kinds of activities before, and we still don't."