In April, a medical student in Boston was charged with killing a "masseuse" he met through Craigslist’s Erotic Services classified ads. This morning, Illinois’ attorney general, who with her counterparts from Connecticut and Missouri had met with Craigslist execs last week, told the Associated Press that Craiglist will be shutting down the category, which largely serves as a clearinghouse for paid sex.
Craigslist publicist Susan MacTavish Best emailed us the statement below, in which she explains the company’s plan to close Erotic Services and open an Adult Services section, where advertisers will be screened to prohibit the offering of illegal services.
As of today for all US craigslist sites, postings to the "erotic services"
category will no longer be accepted, and in 7 days the category will be removed.
Also effective today for all US sites, a new category entitled "adult
services" will be opened for postings by legal adult service providers.
Each posting to this new category will be manually reviewed before
appearing on the site, to ensure compliance with craigslist posting
approved, will be eligible for reposting at $5.
Unsurprisingly, but completely contrary to some of the sensationalistic
journalism we’ve seen these past few weeks, the record is clear that use
of craigslist classifieds is associated with far lower rates of violent
crime than print classifieds, let alone rates of violent crime pertaining
to American society as a whole.
The relative safety of craigslist compared to print classifieds is likely
due to some combination of:
* Measures such as blocking, screening, and telephone verification
* Community moderation via flagging system
* Electronic trail ensures violent criminals are quickly caught
* Personal safety tips prominently posted
* Unsually high level of cooperation with law enforcement
Community moderation as exemplified by our flagging system is arguably the
most successful system ever conceived for eliminating inappropriate
activity from a massive internet community. Working in tandem with various
other protective technologies, it is an inescapable force to be reckoned
with for anyone set on abusing free internet communications across a broad
array of posting types.
However, with respect to this new paid category for advertising by legal
businesses, we will experiment with some of the methods traditionally
employed in paid print classifieds.
We’d like to thank everyone who has provided helpful input over the past
few weeks, all of which we’ve closely considered:
* Our users, whose suggestions have shaped every aspect of craigslist
* Attorneys General, who have provided valuable constructive criticism
* Law Enforcement officers nationwide, who have been hugely supportive
* Legal businesses concerned at their right to advertise being questioned
* EFF and other legal experts defending free speech and Internet law
We are optimistic that the new balance struck today will be an acceptable
compromise from the perspective of these constituencies, and for the
diverse US communities that value and rely upon craigslist.
Note: Our announced intention to contribute 100% of net revenues for the
"erotic services" category to charity has been fulfilled, and will
continue to be fulfilled, notwithstanding criticism questioning our good
faith in this regard. However, in light of today’s changes, and to avoid
any future misunderstanding, we are making no representation regarding how
revenue from the "adult services" category will be used. Our commitment to
philanthropy remains however, and craigslist will continue to develop its
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