Craigslist drops adult listings
has dropped its “adult services” listings amid mounting pressure from
critics who say the highly-trafficked classified ad site is not doing
enough to combat prostitution. Instead of the previous link to adult
services, it now displays the single world “censored”.
Craigslist replaced its “erotic services” ads with the new adult
category and said it would closely screen the submitted ads.
Richard Blumenthal is leading a group of states attorneys general who
have been monitoring the company’s efforts to purge the offending ads.
Blumenthal has suggested that Craigslist could have been earning as much
as $36 million a year from prostitution and human trafficking.
has vigorously defended its business practices and claims it has been
unfairly singled out for attack. Other online listings, including those
of eBay and some national newspapers,
promote similar adult services without attracting a fraction of the
attention that Craigslist has received.
In a blog post last
month, chief executive Jim Buckmaster wrote that “Craigslist is
committed to being socially responsible, and, when it comes to adult
services ads, that includes aggressively combating violent crime and
human rights violations, including human trafficking and the
exploitation of minors.”
Craigslist has said it had donated all
revenues from its erotic services listings to charity. When it switched
to its adult services listings last year it said it would make no
commitment to how those revenues would be used.
Craigslist has been under attack for some time, its liability for
illegal acts committed as a result of its ad listings is highly
questionable. Web sites enjoy broad immunity from prosecution over
material submitted by users and numerous attempts to restrict
user-generated content have been struck down by the courts.
result, many commentators view this latest act by Craigslist as a PR
move to rally public opinion in favor of free speech. If that’s the
case, then they may have miscalculated, suggests Blumenthal: “If this
announcement is a stunt or a ploy, it will only redouble our
determination to pursue this issue with Craigslist.”
Craigslist is used by over 50 million people in the United States, with over 20 billion monthly page views.