Ironically, this relic of the old Internet is, by their own admission, ceasing operations BECAUSE it's no longer the old Internet. They specifically site how they shined at a time when AOL and Yahoo messenger chatrooms were the staple, and how the evolution of technology from those to the much more vast and much more fluid landscape of social media today makes it much harder to hunt for would be pedophiles (basically they admit they couldn't keep up with the times).
All their chat log archives dating back 15 years will be gone from their site come March (though people are already scrambling to preserve the history).
Here is their official statement on the matter. It is truly an interesting read because it also showcases how the Internet evolved.
From perverted-justice.com, and I quote
At the start of 2019, we've decided to cease active decoy operations. We've been around a very, very long time now in terms of internet years. Back when we started in 2003, there was no twitter, no facebook and google wasn't much more than a search engine. Amazon was mostly known for selling books, even!
Without social networking, most socializing online when we started up happened in large chat rooms on the networks of the major players at the time. MSN chats, AOL chats and Yahoo chats. Thusly, we set ourselves up to put decoy profiles into those chats, mostly focusing on regional chat rooms to deal with the issue of adults preying on minors online.
When we started, there were few laws on the books across the country against trying to solicit a child online, we even wrote the majority of one law and testified in front of a few state legislatures to get them to catch up to the internet era. With our early work doing stings with local media, the issue came to national prominence. That culminated in NBC's "To Catch a Predator" series where millions upon millions became aware of the widespread problem of adults attempting to sexually assault minors they met online. That work led to hundreds of convictions and laws across the country being enacted to deal with this issue.
Meanwhile, the element we were inspired to work, chat rooms, all died off. Some due to the fact that the attention and trouble caused by the media exposure of internet predators had made them unattractive to continue operating. Others died off later on as social networking made them obsolete. Few remnants of the chat-room era of the internet still exist at this point.
As the internet changed, elements like twitter and social networking in general has spread the problem wide and thin. Internet predators are no longer confined to mostly a few deep wells as they were when we started up. Internet access for younger generations is ubiquitous, they're connected at an earlier age each year with technology in their hands that far exceed the power of PC's we used when starting this website long ago.
In many ways, this can be viewed positively or negatively. With far more varied activities online, there's fewer places where everyone congregates. This means that a potential predator cannot just sit in an online room and talk up every young adult that enters with ease. Also positively, people are well aware of the risk of arrest when doing so as every state has a law on the books and TCAP is well known among adults at this juncture.
Negatively, this does mean that a determined adult wanting to molest kids can make use of technology to try to ensure that he's actually talking to a child. It means the challenge of "patrolling" the internet for such activity is also far more difficult, given the immense explosion of social activity websites and apps that have popped up since the origins of our site.
As we've grown older, we're less able to keep up technologically. With every kid having access to an internet connected camera, the challenges of convincingly portraying children online has evolved away from "everyone being able to" to requiring extremely young looking adults over the age of 20 to be able to do so effectively.
We're sure that there's a way to run a site like this in this era, where you can still generate a decent amount of caseload. Police nowadays are far more open to talking to citizens with information than they were back when we started, due to the work and foundation we established with the 99% conviction rate that our work led to, all across the country. It will be up to future generations to figure out the best way to efficiently get internet predators arrested, and to figure out the best way to use newer technologies to fake being underage convincingly.
We'd like to thank every volunteer over the years, from the people doing content creation to make our profiles convincing enough to get arrests, to the phone verifiers that sounded young to further cement our work, and to the chat-log contributors who did the boring, arduous and often disturbing work of getting these guys arrested. When we started, some idiots online said we wouldn't get one conviction. We ended with at least 623 that we know of. The real number is probably around 650, as I never went back and posted write-ups for all the research convictions we achieved of people we exposed in online pedophile communities.
In April or May of 2019, the website will likely change to a simple write-up with notes on the work that was done here and a removal of most site features, including the archive, forums and the like. However, we're going to try to do one last thing to make sure the work of our volunteers lives on and hopefully helps lay a further foundation for technology in the future.
Over the last five years especially, we've had dozens of researchers from colleges and projects across the western world asking for permission to use our data from the website, and we've always given permission to use chat logs on our website for any project they're doing. We have many, many more thousands upon thousands of chat conversations archived that never saw the light of day because they never rose to a level of prosecution. Our last goal now that we're stopping active operations is to compile that work in a dataset that we'll be able to share going forward for research.
If you have any need of material on the site for custody issues or the like, be sure to screenshot and save the material in question that you might need. For requests of information, permission requests or anything else, feel free to email email@example.com with a clear and concise write-up of what you want.
Xavier Von Erck