On the afternoon of April 12, 2018, I was in Los Angeles waiting to board my flight when my best friend texted me: “NightShift is gone. For good.”
Any other day, my first thought would have been that he’s joking. But this was right after FOSTA-SESTA were passed, so I had a sinking feeling he was right. When I checked the site myself, it really was gone.
(Note: I’m not going to debate the merits of FOSTA-SESTA. I’m just going to say this — I think it does more harm than good, mainly by taking away established platforms for sex workers to make a safe living.)
On the plane, I began researching the fallout from all this and quickly realized the vacuum that was created from the disappearance of sites like TER — and the need for a stable replacement.
I texted my friend: “We should pick up where these sites left off.”
We met that very night to dig into the idea, and the more we talked about it, the more we wanted to do it. We’ve both worked in tech for over 10 years — he as a full-stack senior developer and I as a product manager. And we strongly believed that our product, which we named PrivateDelights, could be better and stronger than the ones that came before it.
But it had to be done without violating FOSTA-SESTA.
Our goal was clear: PrivateDelights needs to be operated entirely outside the United States.
Starting with us.
We’d always talked about working remotely while traveling the world, and this was the perfect opportunity. At the end of April, we moved to Amsterdam and began work on PrivateDelights (the plan is to travel to a different city every month and work from there 😃).
We decided to avoid any .com / .co etc type domains. They can easily be seized and taken down.
Initially, we started with a “.io” domain. As programmers, “IO” has a special meaning for us. It denotes “Input /Output” which makes this domain especially fitting for technology products. And that was our goal: to build a technology product that solves problems for both sex workers and their clients.
But upon further research, we found that a “.ch” domain is even more secure for this particular product, so we moved from “.io” to “.ch”.
Thus, PrivateDelights.ch was born.
We want to avoid any data on the site even remotely touching any servers stateside.
So we’re hosting the site entirely on servers in the EU. We even have redundant backups on separate servers in Sweden and Switzerland. If we ever need to move the site, it’ll be like flipping a switch — the move can be done in minutes.
One of our driving principles is to always put our users first. Especially when it comes to deciding the direction of the product. We’re constantly collecting user feedback and using that to improve the platform.
For instance, providers told us early on that they want a private, hidden, providers-only chat room— a safe space where they can gather, talk, hang out and help each other. So we created one and it has been steadily growing from day 1.
Another way we put users first is by being extremely careful with their info. For instance, we require providers to verify their age (to combat sex trafficking). But we ask them to cover up any personal info on the ID like names, addresses etc, so they don’t reveal *any* personally identifiable info.
Once their age is verified, we immediately delete the correspondence, so even this info is not saved anywhere.
(Note: If users are already verified on sites like P411, they can skip this verification entirely.)
When we announced that PrivateDelights is going to be a reviews-centric site, most of the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. But some users had concerns, especially around how revealing reviews can be.
Our thesis is that reviews are good for the ecosystem, if done the *right* way.
For instance, clients on the platform are prohibited from revealing any personally identifiable info about providers in their reviews — like names, addresses, physical identifiers etc. They’re also prohibited from revealing graphic details about intimate acts.
Instead, the focus of reviews will be more on the overall experience of the interactions. When providers respond to reviews, they’re also guided to do so in a similar manner.
This way, both client reviews and provider responses are helpful, but non-incriminating.
Note: See examples of reviews here.
This is just the beginning for PrivateDelights. We have a giant product roadmap full of exciting features planned for the platform:
- Co-ed forums for providers and clients to mingle with each other
- Secure, 2-way verification (better than what’s currently available through other sites)
- Dedicated ‘specialty’ areas on the site (greek, fetishes etc)
- Custom digital content that providers can create and charge clients to subscribe to access
- Bitcoin payments
- and more
We’re going to keep improving and adding to the platform until the day our users tell us that PrivateDelights has become their absolute favorite Provider-Client site on the web.
And then, we’re going to keep on improving and adding to it even more 😃