Craigslist To Get Tough On Sex Ads

    November 6, 2008

Craigslist said today it is implementing new measures, in partnership with state law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), to prevent its online classifieds from being used for prostitution, child exploitation, and other illegal activity.

The measures are part of an agreement between Craigslist, NCMEC, and attorneys general of more than 40 states. The move was spearheaded by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

"The incidence of crime on Craigslist is actually exceedingly low, considering the tens of millions of legitimate ads posted each month by well-intentioned users," said Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist.

"But no amount of criminal activity is acceptable, and as Craigslist has grown, we have become aware of instances where our free services were being misused to facilitate illegal activities."

Craigslist says because of its growth, businesses have sprung up selling software and other services designed to get around its terms of use. The company said it has filed 14 lawsuits against such businesses and is sending "cease and desist" orders to a number of companies and individuals offering such services. Craigslist said it will investigate and pass along information to local authorities of those involved in criminal activity.

Craigslist said it has put a phone verification system in place for the "erotic services" section of its site, requiring a working phone number for postings and enabling blacklisting of phone numbers for those who post inappropriate ads.

The company also said it has plans to introduce credit card verification and a small fee per ad for posting in "erotic services," to promote compliance with site guidelines.  Craigslist said ads that violate terms would be removed without refund and all of the revenue from these ads will go to charity.

"Requiring credit card verification, and charging a fee to post in this category raises accountability to a point where we expect few illicit ads will remain," said Buckmaster. "For those that do persist, telephone and credit card information will be available to law enforcement via subpoena."