Craigslist removes adult services section
HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says he wants proof that Craigslist has done away with its adult services section for good.
Late Friday, the San Francisco-based online classifieds website placed a black "censored" label on its homepage over the category that various states attorneys general, law enforcement officials and other critics alleged was advertising prostitution online.
The action follows a letter sent by 17 attorneys general late last month to Craigslist, requesting that the website remove the adult section.
In a letter sent to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster and founder Craig Newmark, Blumenthal mentions a growing amount of prostitution advertisements that are featured on the site.
"The increasingly sharp public criticism of Craigslist's Adult Services section reflects a growing recognition that ads for prostitution-including ads trafficking children-are rampant on it," Blumenthal said in the letter.
"In our view, the company should take immediate action to end the misery for the women and children who may be exploited and victimized by these ads."
On Tuesday, Blumenthal told The Wall Street Journal he wants official confirmation that the popular online classifieds website has gotten rid of its adult services section. He said he plans to release a letter to the website's officials asking if they have permanently closed the adult services category.
Blumenthal told the Journal that the end of Craigslist's adult services is an "important step" in addressing selling of sex online but "not the end game."
"There is not a single magic bullet," he told the newspaper.
The website's recent move furthers efforts they made in 2008 to take more control of the section of the site. Under pressure from 40 state attorneys general, Craigslist began requiring posters to provide a working phone number and pay a fee for placing an ad in what became the adult services section. Several months later, Craigslist adopted a manual screening process in which postings are reviewed before publishing.
In response to Craigslist's removal of the adult section, the Technology Liberation Front -- a blog "dedicated to keeping politicians' hands off the 'net and everything else related to technology" -- calls the online classifieds site a "victim of unwarranted political intimidation" by state attorneys general.
"While the state attorneys general are likely celebrating victory this holiday weekend, all they've really done is to stifle free speech online and complicate efforts by law enforcement authorities to go after the real bad guys -- you know, the ones who are forcing kids into sex slavery," the group wrote.
Taking down the adult section likely will hit Craigslist's profit margins. The site was expected to generate $122 million in revenue in 2010, according to a Classified Intelligence Report issued in April. Of that, 30 percent was to come from the adult services section, Information Week reported.
According to the Journal, Buckmaster, Craigslist CEO, has warned that such ads would merely be moved to different sites or to other sections of the website.
The Journal, who said it trolled the website after the censor button went up, found prostitution listings under the site's personals section, where people can post for free.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at email@example.com.