Is Censoring Craigslist the Right Way to Go?

Should Craigslist Be Held Responsible for the Listings Posted By Users?

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Update: The EFF has weighed in on the topic, talking about what the censoring means for free speech.

Craigslist has removed the censored box, and the adult section is just gone entirely.

Original Article: As you may have read by now, Craigslist has censored its "adult services" section. This appears to stem from a combination of pressure from numerous state attorneys general and negative media exposure. The issue at hand:  prostitution and human trafficking being solicited through the site. 

The situation brings to mind the conviction of Google execs over content uploaded to Google-owned YouTube, which led us to asking if social media sites should be held accountable for user actions.  Should Craigslist be held responsible? Comment here.

Craiglist opted to display a "censored" bar over the "adult services" category, caving to the pressure to remove it, while also making it obvious that its not really what they wanted to do. They could’ve simply removed it. Craigslist clearly feels attacked. Some have even suggested that the move was made to influence public opinion. 

Some are coming at the story raising questions about free speech, and while that is one issue, not even all supporters of online free speech find this to be the real issue at hand. Microsoft Research Senior Researcher Danah Boyd wrote a lengthy editorial on the subject for the Huffington Post in which she comes to Craigslist defense (as a service provider, not for censoring the section). Boyd, who claims to be a victim of abuse herself, makes the case that censoring Craigslist does more to add to the problem than to help solve it, saying that it helps the abusers. 

"The Internet has changed the dynamics of prostitution and trafficking, making it easier for prostitutes and traffickers to connect with clients without too many layers of intermediaries," she writes. "As a result, the Internet has become an intermediary, often without the knowledge of those internet service providers (ISPs) who are the conduits. This is what makes people believe that they should go after ISPs like Craigslist. Faulty logic suggests that if Craigslist is effectively a digital pimp who’s profiting off of online traffic, why shouldn’t it be prosecuted as such?"

"The problem with this logic is that it fails to account for three important differences," Boyd continues. "1) most ISPs have a fundamental business — if not moral — interest in helping protect people; 2) the visibility of illicit activities online makes it much easier to get at, and help, those who are being victimized; and 3) a one-stop-shop is more helpful for law enforcement than for criminals. In short, Craigslist is not a pimp, but a public perch from which law enforcement can watch without being seen."

Craigslist censors adult services section

Boyd elaborates on each of these points in the article. Despite the censoring, Craigslist appears to agree with Boyd.  

"The law is on craigslist’s side – websites are not liable for content posted by users under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. But craigslist has given up anyway," says Adrianne Jeffries at ReadWriteWeb. "It’s not because its owners want to prevent sex trafficking – craigslist has maintained that it does more harm than good because law enforcement agencies can use it just as easily as pimps can."

There has been a lot of criticism about how the media has covered the story in general, with Craigslist itself probably being the harshest critic. CNN’s Amber Lyon recently interviewed Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, apparently catching him off guard on the subject. In a post at The Faster Times, Newmark says:

Amber approached me after an event where I had just spoken about stuff like getting real support for our troops and veterans — a cause I care about and support whenever I can. She said because “I’m the Craig in craigslist,” she expected me to have all the answers on the spot about anything to do with the company. Well, I don’t. Jim Buckmaster, our CEO, has been running craigslist for the last 10 years. I am a customer service rep, and I still love being connected to our users and trying to help people. But I have no role in managing the company’s operations because basically (a) I suck as a manager, and (b) while overall company direction matters to me as founder and a board director,  the deal was to hire good, trustworthy people and then get outta the way.
If Amber had done her homework, she would have known ambushing me with questions I am not qualified to answer, or even the right person to ask, would not get CNN’s viewers the accurate information they deserve.

Buckmaster also posted a letter to Lyon on the company blog, criticizing her approach. In this clip, Lyon says Craigslist isn’t living up to its promise of filtering ads, and offers a rebuttal to Craigslist accusations that  she "ambushed" Newmark (though doesn’t mention the part about him not running the company).  Since the Newmark interview, there has been no shortage of media coverage of Craigslist, though as Jeffries and Lyon both note, Craigslist itself is no longer talking. 

Craigslist had another blog post up recently criticizing the notion that alternatives to Craigslist are any better for preventing human trafficking. The post was a response to a Facebook Page based on that notion, indicating that eBay was such an alternative. The post goes on to discuss examples of ads that would contradict that notion.  In Boyd’s piece, she compared the whole thing to a game of whack-a-mole, suggesting that if you censor one site, the content will simply pop up on another one. 

Is censoring Craigslist the answer? Share your thoughts.

Is Censoring Craigslist the Right Way to Go?
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  • jo

    No its not right because everyone has a right to privacy. Yes there will always be a few bad wheels but that doesnt makes us all bad.
    Do you want the government to censor everything you do? Your money, your telephone calls, your private life…. No you dont…. nobody does.
    People think if you CONTROL other people you will succeed in monitoring them….doesnt work that way.

    Let people have their privacy

  • Guest

    Craigslist should NOT censor. I don’t believe anyone would hold THEM accountable for the posts of others. I certainly would not. Now, the listings if they promote illegal activities should be removed, and the user community does a good job of that already.

  • Sandman

    Censoring craigslist because of how people use it is much like blaming Chevy because someone drove a nova into a crowd of people while drunk. It is like blaming Nike because a few criminals wore them while robbing people on the street. Why not just make the entire internet illegal because a married couple is broken up due to one of them meeting someone in a chatroom. It seems that every week I see this nation protecting us from ourselves. I see us chipping away at our opportunities one by one in the name of security and morality. Someone seems to think that if craigslist stops allowing advertising in their adult section, then all the prostitution will stop. It will not stop it, it will just find another avenue.
    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin
    Craigslist is not to blame for the actions of others.

    • Marvin Von Renchler

      Of course not but they are responsible for their own actions. If the current owners of the site want to be associated with filth then more pwer to em. I will try to stay away from doing any type of business with anyone connected to CL if tey dont stop allowing the filth. Thats where it hursts them. REVENUE. How much do they ake from allowing perverts to advertise their ‘services’?

  • http://www.ableinspector.com Guest

    Craigslist should not be censored. This is a free speach issue – period. There are numerous other sites that allow adult services posts, why had Craigslist been targeted? Backpage is just one of numerous other sites that allow adult services to post. Adult service providers also take out ads in the newspapers, are they next? I doubt it.

    It’s like the burning of the koran. While I strongly disagree with this dufus for burning the koran, I strongly support his RIGHT to do it.

  • Guest

    Yes, absolutely craigslist should be held responsible. They are not a “adult” website, therefore should not have adult or “erotic” services offered on there.
    They are also based in California, and prostitution (which is exactly what that category on their site was) is not legal in this state.

  • Guest

    Censorship never works. people always find ways around censorship. The best way to censor something is to educate on the pros and cons and allow people to make up their own minds. If you do it right public attitudes change and there is no need for censorship in the first place.

    If some small minded people feel that censoring ads is in some way going to change human trafficking then they really need to get out more often. The ads will change or move to some other platform and things will go on as if nothing happened in the first place.

    If one wants to look at how censorship doesn’t work, have a look at the politics of any communist or socialist country, and see how well that works.

    Education, not censorship.

  • Guest

    There is right ” socially , morally proper behavior ” and there is wrong, you can tell people
    what is right and wrong but you can not force them to do whats right. The government and
    the bible gives us freedom to choose, we all claim to want our rights, It is sadly the right of
    some to choose poorly and then suffer the results. If someone makes a choice to break the
    law then they and only they should be held accountable. Now should they post content that
    clearly is promoting crime “NO” at some point cregs list must be accountable but not for what
    is posted, but what is allowed to be on the site. If they where allowing pedophiles to advertise
    every one and there mother would be screaming for then to stop, but this is clearly a case
    where once again the government and law enforcement does not want to do there jobs.
    In Oregon they have a rotating door at the justice center due to lack of ethics, moral standards
    and conviction of right and wrong, they let non violent offenders go right back out and re-offend
    and say we don’t have jail space. well we have been closing prisons, why ? if you confine them
    and they try to escape ” shoot them” no pardon no parole, just a simple solution if they have
    the right to appeal then let them, but if they try to escape shoot first and sort it out later.

    • Marvin Von Renchler

      Im also in Oregon—one of the most ‘progressive’ (if you will) states. We allow totally nude dancing, etc. This last year my family was kept late at night up 2 to4 times a week by local police who had set up a prostitution sting operation. A house 5 away from mine is owned by a lawyer whomlet them use it. They placed prositution ads and then swarmed on the johns as they arrived. We had chases through the local yards, we had getaway chases ending up in our driveway with johns and prositutes pulled out of cars just feet from my daughters bedroom windows. It was great fun—oh boy. We often wondered if a shooting would happen and if we should stay in our bedrooms at night.

      Apparently CLs ease of use and allowance of FREE SPEECH enabled most of the prositution in Portland to get off the streets and do much more business through the internet. Nice!

      • Guest

        Prostitution is the oldest known “profession”, I mean we’re talking CENTURIES, oh hell MILLENNIUMS here bro, do you REALLY think Craigslist is responsible for any prostitution in your neighborhood or elsewhere?

        You CHOSE a VERY poor city to force your family to live in if you are so against the sex business and wish to protect them from it. You could’ve easily done your homework and driven up 82nd street prior to choosing to live there (and who knows, perhaps you did and that was the attraction for you?). But you refuse to take responsibility for yourself and your own actions.

        You are such a victim, Marvin.

        Grow up and grow a pair. You know, like those ones you enjoyed viewing on Craigslist.

  • Republic

    These comments saying it’s a “free speech issue” have no understanding of the Constitution. It’s a private site. They can limit it to whatever they want. Craigslist is a private entity. They are censoring themselves which they have every right to do.

  • Guest

    The idea that sites like craigslist or google or yahoo are not responsible for content is absurd, should we hold the internet up to the same standards as TV, Radio and newsprint?

    • Guest

      you wrote: “should we hold the internet up to the same standards as TV, Radio and newsprint?”

      in other words, no “standards” at all? in case you hadn’t noticed, tv, radio and newsprint is all propaganda and lies these days!

    • Marvin Von Renchler

      My subject heading was self explanatory. No elaboration needed, sigh.

  • http://www.windows7command.blogspot.com Guest

    I think the bottom line here is that prostitution is illegal.

    In the city I live in, they raid hotels that are known for prostitution and just recently they arrested the owners of the hotels because they know that prostitutes rent the rooms and use them for illegal activities, yet they do nothing to stop it. Just like Craigslist operators know prostitution was going on, yet they weren’t doing much to stop it. Instead, they started charging the prostitutes a fee and made them use “code words” instead of using straight forward terminology. They also said they had humans reviewing each ad before it became “live”, but the prostitution ads were still there.

    If Craigslist had a section that drug dealers were using to sell their drugs, I don’t think people would have such an issue with this… A lot of people in America have mixed feelings about prostitution.

  • Guest

    Who cares what Craigslist does? if they feel like being babies, let them. No one has “censored” them, no one has forced them to do anything. They are totally acting of their own accord so who really gives a shit?

    Further, human trafficking is real and personally, no website should have anything to do with it. No money is worth that.

  • Chris

    I don’t thing the issue is whether they should be held accountable, they should but moreover it is there responsibility to ensure that illegal activities and not done on THEIR sites..

    After all it is their site is it not? If I allow someone to stay at my home – will I then turn a blind eye if they start doing illegal activities under my roof? Hell no! Why should it be the same for the site owners. In my home I am liable, the same goes for their websites.

    Rules need to be put in place to strengthen this mentality. As a web designer myself, I will not willingly place anything illegal on a clients site as there is always the possibility of someone blaming me for the actions/request of my client.

  • Guest

    Government imposed censorship of ANYTHING is WRONG!

    Unless YOU CHOOSE to self-impose it and make the CHOICE to read or not to read, to visit or not to visit a web site, it’s called FREEDOM. You remember, right? That crazy little notion that our nation FOUGHT FOR!

    People are freaking CLUELESS if they think there aren’t MILLIONS, if not BILLIONS of web sites promoting the exact same things all over the internet.

    Geeeezus people, POLICE YOURSELVES if you don’t want to see something! But for God’s sake, unless you wish to be STRIPPED of ALL of your FREEDOMS and RIGHTS as an individual one day SOON, absolutely FORBID CENSORSHIP being FORCED upon you by government or anyone!

    This is just so wrong on every level.

    Craigslist is such a wonderful venue, that offers so many opportunities to so many people in these beyond difficult times for everything from selling a sewing machine or bicycle, to car or boat, to advertising your yard sale and finding JOBS. The good CERTAINLY outweighs any perceived “bad”… some people just LOVE being able to CONTROL YOU and ALL that you do, they’re called power-hungry, narcissists and I’d stake my LIFE that the ones screaming the loudest have probably used Craigslist’s “adult” sections then most. Hypocrites.

    The very second one person loses their RIGHT to FREE SPEECH or ANY of the FREEDOMS our country’s founders fought for, guess what? YOU just LOST YOURS as well!

    Be VERY careful what you wish for!

    • Marvin Von Renchler

      Sure its a wonderful venue FOR AN ADULT who chooses not to open the links to the filth sections. What if my daughter wants to look for Barbies? What keeps her out of them? Dont get all ‘Bring them up well and they wont look’ either. Sometimes links can be opened by mistake or have misleading titles, etc. You want your 13 year girl old to click open two naked men on each other? This isnt free speech. Its adding to moral decay. THATS what you should be worried about. Thank Gd that people with morals still seem to be the majority.

      Should the Gov (who is the Gov? WE are supposed to be) make them do it? Thats a hard one. Should they do it to represent themselves as decent, responsible people? YES.

      • Marvin Von Renchler

        how you feel morally. Why use an acronym? Why not just say the words? Afraid of being censored or are you just to lazy to type the out.

        • Guest

          I was afraid of offending anyone, such as yourself, who seems to think he owns the power to decide what is to be acceptable and what is not. Funny though, how would someone as “moral” as yourself even know what WTF stands for?

          What sites do you slink around on late at night down in the den while wifey is neatly tucked in bed upstairs? I’m sensing that you’re an ashamed, self-loathing closet pervert Marvin with difficulty controlling your own nasty little desires.

          Did those pictures of two men together that you yourself described seeing on Craigslist make you touch yourself?

      • Michael

        Sadly, your daughter could find just as illicit media by searching Google images for “Barbie”. Its a free market, and adult content is a market that Craigslist has always served. No, I don’t want a 13 yr old girl (or 3 yr old as is the case of my own daughter) clicking on a link and seeing two naked guys (or naked anybody for that matter)…that’s why I – as a responsible parent – monitor what my children do online and where they go. They are not allowed to go to Craigslist without me and they know that. The first step towards the moral responsibility that you speak of is self-accountability. Be accountable for your children, their actions and your ability to influence them and you won’t have to fear websites like Craigslist because you’ve done YOUR job, first.

      • Guest

        you need to become a parent, rather than just a sperm donor. instead of spewing your own failings all over webpronews, why are you not having a conversation with your 13 y/o daughter about self esteem and moral responsibility? since when is the gov’t your own personal babysitter? perhaps they should take custody of your daughter if you cannot provide her with the proper upbringing to avoid what you deem to be immoral activity or to teach her the skills to succeed or teach her to have self esteem. all of which will teach her to make the CHOICE to not participate in unhealthy activities.

        you are the one failing your daughter, marvin.

  • Superbigbob

    This is purely about free speech and common sense. Would you arrest a building owner because someone wrote graffiti suggesting illegal activities on it? The building owner should remove the graffiti in a timely fashion just as craigslist removes posts reported by the community.

    The internet is only a tool. It can be used for good or bad purposes. But I don’t see people outlawing hammers because someone got assaulted with one.

    Blame the writer not the paper it’s simply written on.

  • Guest – Raj

    I agree with Guest (WPN reader).

    Censorship in any form is a slippery slope. A long time ago the standard was set on crying “fire in a crowded theater.” I do not see how that applies to Craigs List.

    Be very very careful what you censor. Once you give it up they will be loathe to give it back to you.

  • lillyb

    I strongly believe that Craigslist should remove both the adult services and casual encounters sections just based on principal. They are providing a means and making it too easy for weak people with sexual perversions to carry out deceitful and illegal encounters, and possibly even spread diseases. It is disgusting how many cheating partners are out there, and they do not need an easy-sleezy avenue to find other s like themselves. No wonder the divorce rates are so high!

  • Guest

    Like all forms of prohibition, censoring Craig’s list will only make the problem worse by pushing the “problem” further underground.

    Human beings like sex. We have to, or the species would die out. Of course, we’re already doing our level best to ensure that many other species go down along with the ship, but that’s irrelevant,

    There are people who are unable to get sex by “normal” means. They may be disabled (many disabled people use prostitutes for this reason), just plain ugly or absolutely useless at chatting up the opposite (or same) sex. Should they be deprived, just because some religions say it’s bad – religions they most likely don’t even share?

    Huge profits from trafficking has been one result of prohibition – both in humans for sale and drugs. But at least it keeps the police busy. Just think, we might have to lay off hundreds of upstanding police if we didn’t have these ridiculous attitudes. What would they spend our taxes on then? Something that helps people? Don’t pretend that’s at all likely

    • Marvin Von Renchler

      Oh what we have done—those who may have been instrumental in CLs decision to be morally responsible. Tsk tsk, we forgot about the poor handicapped who cant get any sex without the dear prostitues. And the ugly! Im so ahamed for wanting to destroy their sex lives. Hmmm just thought though…I am crippled from polio and I dont use CL to find whores. I also am VD free. Am I missing something? Did I miss this wonderful resource? And here I as spending my time looking for free cyclone fence!!! Jokes on me.

  • Your morals are not my biz

    Make prostitution legal, police it, tax it, get heath care checks in the mix. Men have paid women (or men) for sex since the beginning of time. It is a victimless crime until it is illegal. Prostitutes in some ancient cultures were treated with great respect and considered an integral part of society. Just like prohibition created lots of money for the mobsters, drugs are making lots of money for the Mexican cartels. It is a no brainer! I predict that future generations will figure this out and wonder at who gave the government the right to police our morals, when there is no victim. Either that or we will continue to elect self righteous a holes who spout Christian values on one hand while they have secret sexual alliances in the backroom. In that case, see science fiction writer Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” for your future.

    • Marvin Von Renchler

      You have hijacked the subject to spout your immoral views on prositution? How many of those ads were you placing that are now censored. Is this sour grapes? There is NO VICTIM? Fool.

  • http://www.stuffdone.com Paul Kruger

    Ok let’s be clear. No one censored Craigs List except Craig himself.

    No government action was taken and from I can see none can be.
    Craig made a mistake by stating that Craig’s list filtered those ads, creating an expectation on their part which they probably cannot hold up due to the large volume and small staff.

    As was pointed out on Anderson Cooper 360 last night by Attorney Jeffrey Toobin, Craig’s list is safest by just not claiming they filter anything. They are not legally liable for content posted by subscribers. No web provider is.

    So to Craig’s list…just place a disclaimer on line saying:

    • (1) Craig’s list does not filter ads unless someone reports one as objectionable and
    • (2) Be sure to charge for those to put a credit card and identification on the record for such ads.

  • Guest

    The real issue is as long as “free” sites like Craigslist and Kijiji exist, the criminal element will take advantage of these venues to post “illegal” content, ie: prostitution ads in California, — the free sites don’t care as long as they get traffic (which equals advertising $$$).

    Sites that charge a fee to post receive fake / scam ads as well – although probably 100 times fewer than the free sites — I personally have given up on “free” sites; as I have found that over 50% of the content is made up of scam ads — even if they try to remove them in a “timely” fashion, the criminal element is always one step ahead.

    • Guest

      kijiji is owned by EBAY, but after many years, someone with a braincell finally realized kijiji was the stupidest name they could have ever chosen for it, so it is now “ebay classifieds”.

  • call0153

    Craigslist is first what’s next???? Cops taking us to jail for talking about sex ????? Freedom of speach is under attack and the real question is how far are we going to let go????? I feel that our constitutional rights are being stomped on and it just goes along with all the other things that our Nazi like counyry is now suffering. I am talking about the subject of government vs. religion and the facts of seperation of church and state. Just wait next they will try to take “In GOD we trust” off our money. Honestly if they are going to infringe on Craigslist rights to offer whatever people wish to advertise, then take the reference to GOD off our money too.

    • Marvin Von Renchler

      So what you are saying is I could walk up to you and your kids an whip out my gonads? You wouldnt want to do anything about that? Its my FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. This is about decency. CL should have done this long ago out of decency. I stopped going to their site over it but will consider it again if they have taken down the filth.

  • Nick Baer

    The unreported part of this story is that CL also removed the Gigs > Adult category.

    This is the Gigs category (below Jobs) that was created for hiring female and male models, and actors, for legal photography, film and video work.

    Of course, Gigs > Adult was also used by escort services soliciting women (mostly) for call services, promising tens of thousands of dollars per week… which is not a “Gig” by definition of duration of work.

    The Services > Adult category had little legitimacy as such. But Gigs > Adult did.

  • Guest

    Why censor it… If people are breaking the laws such as human trafficing… they are scum and we dont want them on the streets. Craigs list and other web sites should be used as a means to catch and prosecute these scumbags. Perhaps if society would stop worrying about the rights of these scumbag criminals and actually make getting caught doing stuff like that a really bad thing to have happen to you… maybe they would think twice before committing the crimes.

    Maybe if craigs list had any morals they would block that crap and not be a venue for the undesirables of society. If 20 years ago I told you about America as it is today you wouldnt believe me. The problem isnt the website… it is the people.

    • Guest

      I agree… But the real problem in America is that everyone wants complete freedom and no Big Brother, as do I. But when you have a moral breakdown of society, too much freedom to do what you want can be a bad thing too. Again… I think the issue is should they sensor… No, should they categorize it away from unsuspecting minors… yes. Should they do sting opperations…. sure. Is soceity completely screwed up… yes. Why? Because try as we have all through history, mankind cannot rule a society without destroying it because of the lack of rightiousness in mankind.

  • Randy

    Everyone is “responsible” for their own actions. We do not need “big brother” aka The Government to be our keeper.

    Craigslist is a self policying entity that has it’s own “police” that aggressively flags any posts it deems as a failure to adhere to guidelines. It does not need another “policing force” to further limit our rights to view what ever we want to – as free men (and women).

    CL is not a house. It is a community driven site where people place ads. This is their right to do so. As it is your right not to place an ad or view the ads being placed.

    If the ads do not:

    – Harm another
    – Damagae property
    – Cause fraud

    Then they should be allowed to be posted and viewed by responsible people.

    As has been mentioned, it is far easier to manage those ads and people who break the above laws when they are all in one place, than it is when they are driven underground.

    The spotlight that is on CL now is based upon the few loud voices ignoring the law and for their own use.

    – people who don’t make money because of CL
    – people who will make money from these moves
    – the moral majority willing to remove rights and freedoms of others based upon their religion or ideas of right and wrong

    It is past the time for free men and women to stop abdicating their roles and start standing up for themeselve. To stop demanding the government take control and take control yourself. To stop being a slave and become the free man or woman you were supposed to be.

    I want to choose to what I see, or don’t see. To choose my life and not have it chosen for me. To do what I want to do within the 3 laws. Don’t you?

    • Marvin Von Renchler

      Sounds like you are a Craigs employee incognito. Either that or someone I wouldnt want to live beside with my kids. God knows what would be on your TV if they came over. You dont consider any if this subject ‘wrong’? If you do, are you also in the moral majority? WHile we ponder that—are you not very happy that we dont have an IMMORAL MAJORITY? Think of the world then. How do people like you put others down for wanting good over filth? Im not even saying the government shoud step into this. The owners of CL should. As an owner I never would have allowed this and you should be happy that there are others with my attitude.

  • Shashi

    Prostitution has its own debate, but Craiglist was combining prostitution with normal content None is worried about porn sites. Craiglist should setup a pornsite and benefit from it. They should not do in the garb of being normal and actually try and gain from porn content. Really filthy but that is the way people want to be

  • http://nichewebsitestrategy.com/ Scot Manaher

    Yes it should be censored at the domain level on the grounds that is illegal activity. Should webmasters be allowed to post kiddie porn? Should webmasters be allowed to sell illegal drugs online? But then again Craiglist should help law enforcement to stop it.

    I find it appalling that some suggest to take care of this issue at the ISP level. By trying to enforce it at the user ISP level you would be effectively treating everyone like they are guilty. I don’t agree with isp level censorship. This can be taken care of at domain by domain basis.

    Either way it is misleading, the quote I mean it says she said…

    “This is what makes people believe that they should go after ISPs like Craigslist.”

    I am thinking she does not know the difference between a domain and an isp?

  • Marvin Von Renchler

    Legally responsible for content? No, of course not. However, we are living in moral decay. Its worse each year. We parents stand NO CHANCE of being able to control the input to our children from too many sources. Yeah, I can keep my kids off Craigslist but then I cant ask one to help me look up a legit ad or post one. There is no doubt that Craigslists format and terms of service allows and fosters sickness, prositution and perversion. Some of the personal ads wouldnt be as bad if not for the pictures.

    There is NO EXCUSE for allowing it. Does Craigslist need the hit count so much that they want this type of publicity and want to ENABLE these low life users? I read about the personal section and went into several categories—shocking. I spent an hour ‘flagging’ the porn and then gave up, deciding to set Craigslist on BLOCK by my firewall. A valuable resource killed by its handling of filth as ‘free speech’.

    • Guest

      You really can’t watch your kids any better than that? It’s called parenting, and alot more people should do it alot more often. Don’t put a PC in your kids bedroom where you can’t monitor their activities. Don’t allow them to create accounts that you can’t access. Don’t be stupid and naive. If kids want to look at porn, they will see porn. Do you allow them to sleep over at friends homes? Are they allowed to go anyplace by themselves? If you answered yes to either of these then there is that potential that your kid has been exposed to porn.

  • Dalton

    Havent we seen this kind of censorship before? Didnt they do it with books? Now they want to do it with the internet as well! Are you kidding me? When is enough gonna be enough? When do Americans stand up in 1 voice and so STOP?

    Blood has been shed over the last 200 years so we can be free. Free to choose what we watch, read, listen to, eat, drive, etc etc. Now with a stroke of the preverbial pen, the government with all its might swooped down and struck again. This time they found something else to censor.

    Craiglist was the victim here. The readers and advertisers are the victims here. Not just the criminals are affected here, but the whole. The law abiding citizens are the ones most affected. They have been let down, they have sat by and watched the government take more freedoms from us. My question to the attorney generals who pressured CL into submission is this.

    What about sites like, Cityvibe.com Backpage.com Adultlist.com Escortguide.com and numerous others? Do they get a free pass? Are they above the law? Is CL somehow different from them? Is the media form of these websites the determining factor? I want answers. We the voting public want answers. Elections are coming boys, and your job is in jeopardy. You have a shelf life of 4 years, your doing will be undone.

    The first amendment allows us Free Speech, Free Press, and Freedom of Religion. You Mr Attorney Generals are not allowed to take those protections away from us. And we will be taking action against you and anyone else who thinks the Bill Of Rights is just a piece of paper that can be amended any time they choose.

    Come censor my site. www.plaistowpartygroup.com. Am i immoral or illegal in your eyes? Try to censor me and see how far that gets you.

    • Guest

      First off… If something was moral and just it likely would not need to be censored. If something is immoral it usually would be the subject matter of censorship. Funny how it is moral to protec the imoral things.

      Second… When they gave us freedom of speach they never thought people would stoop to the levels they have. They never intended it to protect imoral and disgusting behavior… (I know people will say that is subject to opinion… which furthers my point… ) You cant yell fire in a movie theater, and you cant use free speach to introduce hookers to clients (or children for that matter).

      Third… There was a time in this country where people wouldnt tollerate such imoral activity, but now we call it open minded.

      So light up that bowl, snort a little coke, wear sleazy cloths, pierce your entire face, quit school, use the F bomb freely, Steel what can, abuse your liberties, screw your neighbors wife dog and horse, marry a guy girl or panda bear for all I care… Have a sex change, call yourself a victim, have lots of kids with different dads, and blame everything on someone else. Or… admit that right is right, and wrong is wrong, and there is no grey area.

      Allowing this kind of scum is wrong and society is to blame because we should be outraged but we are not. We should even have to discuss censoring it because it should never get this far unless we drift this far away from God.

      • Mr. No Brainer

        Are you seriously condoning these actions!?! You must not be from this country, or you are some bible thumping fuck-tard that molests little children on the side. Yeah, it always seems that those that preach the loudest have the dirtiest secrets. Take a look at all of the fag catholic priests, even though being gay is a sin, catholics allow these blatant homosexuals to lead them like lemmings (and also provide a steady supply of alter boys).

        My problem, surprisingly to me, isn’t so much with the censorship. I do feel that we should be allowed to post (in any form) what we want, and to view what others have posted, so long as it doesn’t violate others rights to property and safety, etc. I just don’t understand how people are blaming this company for these individuals actions, and how they can even come close to the conclusion that if you shut down CL it will affect these illicit businesses at all!

        Apparently the authors of the posts rooting for government censorship don’t have many skills when it comes to the WWW. If they did, they would know just how easy it is to create a FREE classifieds site, using any number of pre built applications, or to create one yourself (with the right knowledge). CL isn’t based on some top secret government web hosting platform with unbreakable code, etc. ANYBODY could rebuild their own version of CL, at any time!

        So, we can see how easily CL can be replaced. Now lets look at how much more convenient CL makes things for law enforcement. Why would they want to scatter all of these online sex advertisers? Why not keep them all in one convenient place? This would make stings much easier. You would know where to find EVERYBODY! Setting up stings off CL is much less labor intensive, more economical, and more effective. If somebody is actually stupid enough to list their ass on CL, they are probably stupid enough to leave enough of a trail to have the cops follow it easily.

        So, what is destroying CL actually doing? Is it getting rid of all that is bad in the world, or is it streamlining the law enforcement officers jobs and investigations thereby allowing them to make more busts at lower costs to the public? Does it really make any sense to force those in the sex trade to go back to the old way of soliciting business, scatter them to the winds, or does it make more sense to contain the problem and act accordingly?

        Just my 2 cents…

    • BillyBong

      What a LOSER!! – You voted for OBAMA, didn’t you???

  • dtm

    Officially censored – NO Craig list was not Officially censored (not yet) but there are several states that have file stop and desist orders and suit against them so in effect they were forced to do something about it.

    I agree with Boyd’s comments – If Craig’s list is such a mecca for this kind of activity – then why is law enforcement not using it as a means to go after the real people committing the crimes?

    Blaming the Internet or porn or the stripper at a bar or the other person for a cheating spouse is absolutely turning a blind eye to the real problem “the cheating spouse”. It is not societies job to police the commitment two people have madded to each other. It is that spouse’s choice to do the things she or he has done. if you have a cheating spouse then you did not really have a soild relationship to begin with.

    • Guest

      Thank you, Dr. Phil – …….. (LOSER!)


    Nail Craigslist to the wall!!!!!

    THEY created the website, let them Police it!

    Why should the public be subjected to Sex offenders, and rip-off artists
    because the people at CraigsList are too LAZY to watch over their own
    creation? – RESPONSIBILITY, people – YOU made it, now, FIX IT!!!!

    • Guest

      it IS about “responsibility”… be responsible for YOURSELF and YOUR OWN actions! I mean really, are you such a professional VICTIM that you need someone to wipe your ass for you too? you are incapable of making your own choice to NOT “subject” yourself to adult material, that can be found EVERYWHERE?

      maybe the gov’t can start an ass-wiping program next to waste even more taxpayer dollars for people such as yourself who are incapable of taking responsibility for your own actions. you, the idiots, who need to be protected from yourselves are the ones who screw the intelligent life forms out of our rights year after year.

    • Guest

      If you’re going to preach RESPONSIBILITY then LIVE by it moron. You are responsible for policing yourself and your kids. Craigslist does plenty to police their website and you as a user, are responsible for the rest.

  • http://intimacyquestions.com M. Rose

    I lived in Hawaii in the Vietnam era. A mayor there successfully jailed all the prostitutes. In a few short weeks the statutory rape rates skyrocketed. At the advice of local law enforcement, the policy was changed to a “revolving door” policy where police would periodically arrest and detain prostitutes long enough to have them tested for diseases and drugs, and then released.

    To me, this seems like a much wiser policy. I tend to regard sex workers as people who provide a needed service which has the net result of protecting our schoolgirls until they are of age. I especially feel that those who offer the non-hardcore services such as body rubs and are proactive with regard to STD prevention are not at all in the same class as drug addicts attempting to finance their habits while engaging in risky behaviors.

    Here’s my prediction: In the states where the Attorneys General have exerted a “get tough on prostitution” policy, I expect to see a significant rise in statutory rape. So it works out to advancing a political agenda (ostensibly for moral reasons) at the expense of our teenagers.

    Ultimately, it would make sense to legalize and regulate this type of profession. Horny men and the women who are willing to take care of them are not about to go away. The question is how we choose to manage this reality.

    • Guest

      I think we are going to see more people understand this type of logic based reasoning in the future.

  • http://medianowonline.com Yusuf

    I am not here to support Craiglist or Google. I am also against any kind of censoreship. But one must react on Google’s monopoly on web world. If Google is against any type of abusive content, first it should stop indexing such contents. Why Google’s search engine trace those websites and index it.
    Google is not playing fair. Why lot of author’s are against his policy. There is something. First they should introspect themselves.

  • Marvin Von Renchler

    We must elaborate. Is censoring BY WHOM? By themselves? By an outside power? By our government (that means by us, as we are the government, right? lol)

    We are all swinging in different directions until that is defined.

    Secondly, many have taken off subject to debate prostitution. Not the subject.

    If I were an owner of CL, I wouldnt want my name associated with filth. This isnt FREE SPEECH, people. Its not a public site. They can accept or reject what they please. I suppose a major court decision could change that if someone forced the issue. If you were a whore, would you take CL to court to defend your right to work? I think not.

    I had blocked my computers access to CL which was a shame becasue we used it all the time. If they are going to do something about the filth than I will go back. I will also let the owners and advertisers on their OTHER sites how I feel, as should all concerned human beings. If you hit them in the pocket book, they will listen. Im proud to be in the moral majority, if thats how you readers label me

    • http://www.ramrodproductions.com Matt Howard

      This is all Bs everyone want to claim prostitution was that all that cl posted under the adult gigs welcome to the real world when cl starts censoring the adult industry what next people going to after the porn industry we as adult sites have all rights to advertise on cl as any other business out there and I plan to not stop on this issue with the media I am already looking into who started this and filing suit against them as its not right to attack us as adult industry and if the law says it against the law arrest the people doing the crime and not punish the world. If selling sex for money is against the law look at the post get the address and get there with handcuffs and arrest them other wise leave the rest alone.

  • http://www.affiliatesdictionary.com ScienceLives

    I had never personally checked out the adult section of Craigslist, although I use the rest of the site frequently. I’m not sure exactly what was there, but if it was a mix of legal and illegal activities it should not have been removed entirely. If someone actually did post that they were selling a human being, or offering child porn, I’m sure there would be a lineup of CL users flagging that ad and those types of ads would be removed quite quickly. But if it was an ad offering the services of a stripper, or hiring a porn actress or actor, or someone just looking for a casual one-night stand, there is nothing illegal about that and the ads should stay … even though it’s not my thing, to each his own. I’ve never come across an adult ad on Craigslist because I never go into that section, and the same would be true of the people posting here worried that they or their children would see the ads … the solution would be to not have those ads come up in a general search and have an “18+” warning before entering that section. Then anyone not wanting to see it won’t. Problem solved.

  • http://fisherman209.blogspot.com Californian

    Censorship is never good. Craigslist should be allowed to have any type of service section on their site that they want. And not have to deal with idiotic AG’s. Or media crap.

  • http://www.undercoveromance.com Guest

    When you start censoring Americans, we might as well be in China because you are no longer free.

  • Guest

    Those who solicit and those who respond to them are both willing participants in questionable activities. Craigslist is a venue only and is not responsible for individuals actions. If people wish to be victims of their desires and their own stupidity–so be it. In this case how can one not blame the victim?

  • Mike

    This whole Craigslist issue brings up a number of problems. First, there are hundreds if not thousands of sights on which prostitutes post. So, going after Craigslist is selective enforcement extraordinaire. Second, the inference from those against Craigslist constantly infer that virtually every ad is children or sex slaves. A quick review of the ads will quickly show that is not the case and I would think they should have to provide evidence (BTW, I think most people who frequent prostitutes would report child abuse). Third, Craiglist is a medium for communication. Perhaps we should shut down the phone company because gangsters call each other plotting crimes. Finally, why the hell is prostitution illegal anyway? The police can’t stop it. It is legal in most countries in this world. People sell their bodies for all sorts of things (sports, models, clinical trials) so why not for sex? And finally, everyone woman I ever met was willing to trade sex for money (or money spent on her) including my ex wife. And finally, with 20,000 people murdered in the US every year, with hundreds of thousands of cars stolen every year, with Wall Street bandits ripping off billions, with Medicare fraud at $60 billion a year, and with neighborhoods in our cities worse that Bagdad, is this really something we should be wasting our time on?

  • Guest

    This is a free website for anyone to use. I understand that there may be prostitution going on but there is an adult warning when you click on the adult section. They cannot manage the amount of posts that go on craigslist. People need to be more aware of the dangers when they meet up with strangers online which can be done with any website. I believe that it should be the users responsibility. The user should be responsible for posting not craigslist! You can at any time flag a post that you think is against the terms of service and it will be removed.

    What happened to our rights America!
    Stop this nonsense bullshit!

  • Guest

    The real question is “whether” they can be held responsible and accountable. If prostitution were legal, that question would be moot. In the case of child abuse and slavery, if the present laws were enforced with more vigor and greater punishment, the media could also be rendered moot. Sadly, there are powers that do not want to change things, and they pay lip service only to muffling solicitation in ways that do not effectively alter the end result. We have become a country of pandering and privilege, no good effect having become the mantel of the privileged.

    Dante said that the deepest recesses of Hell are reserved for those who witness a moral transgression and doing nothing. The haves have, and they intend to keep it.

    Only two things can change this. Elect new leaders whose morals are less blatantly corrupt, or rise up up fight this crime yourselves. I would rather try vigilantes by their peers for bringing justice to children than to see another child hurt by a pervert, and legalize and protect prostitutes for providing what should be considered a professional service.

  • http://www.intermarkeffiliates.biz Tony

    Adults in a free society have a certain responsibility to accept whatever the consequences of their actions are and be rewarded when the outcomes are positive.

    Having said that, Craigslist provides a service to many different subscribers without necessarily knowing what each subscriber is liable to make public on its website and therefore should not be penalized for another person’s indiscretions. If the act is illegal, then arrest the perpetrator! If it is merely indecent, then ban the content!

    BTW, what kind of content goes in an adult section? Maybe there is some misinterpretations relating to this question.


  • John Jeffries

    Simply put the answer about Craig’s List is a big NO.
    The next step is magazines, newspapers, any media at all.
    The less control our government has to do with the media the better.
    Look at Chavez and what he is doing.
    This is just another way to eroad our liberties
    WAKE UP PEOPLE! I can’t believe we are so consumed with our own opinions that we are willing to join the academics ruining our country.

  • JimB

    Censorship OF Improper / Immoral Listings

    This type of usage of the internet does nothing to increase the dignity of mankind!

    Craiglists is a good resource & has been an asset to many of us; adults & children alike in many ways.

    Most adults who choose these avenues will find them, but why should children & young adults be subject to these dehumanizing & degradation concerns! The underlying thought is to indoctrinate these very same young minds into their immoral worlds & directions.

    I believe as many, that policing these issues is necessary (while also assisting parents &,) a step in the proper directions maintaining & ultimately increasing our self own esteems.

    As adults we rely on our own conscious to make subjective or objective decisions and usually reap the results at the end of the day.

    This is just one man’s opinion & I think more should be done overall!… JimB

  • Guest

    Yes, if they provide a category for Adult services.

    • Guest

      Yes, Craig’s List is a very bad busiiness/tax model idiocy borne duirng the infancy of the internet.

      Times are tight, so it’s critical that we correct one of the most fundamental issues that has caused the massive job and investment losses in one of the US’s most important industriy categories: Information and News. The 50 people working for Craig’s List should not continue to be able to displace the 5 million media professionals they have effectively been elimated by the dessimation of the paid classified advertising category.

      Craig’s List is not a dot.org. No way, no how. That must be challenged NOW! What should happen?: Craigslist should be taxed at the international VAT profit rates set in Europe — set at least 33% for every transaction, with everything going to the IRS or other international country of origin.

      In short, if you are OK with a supposedly ‘free’ classified ad business model that will continue to provide illegal Prostitution, Slavery, and Stolen Property for Sale, then let Craig’s List continue to prosper unfettered.

      However, if you think we need to re-jigger our tax and spend priorities to better align with: Both what we must best sustain (freedom of information), and how it best be done (tax fairly across the board), then I suggest you make this a personal priority.


      • Guest

        For a second there, with all of the “illegal” activity you spoke of, I thought you were describing ebay.

  • Guest

    As an online service they should police themselves, it’s their responsibility. While we have the right to free speech we don’t have the right to publish and advertise an illegal activity. They already have keyword filters running, so an automated process should be their first line of defense. Then, actively persue any user posting outside their ‘new’ obsenity terms of use.
    Postings looking for someone to kill your husband/wife are illegal, is that censorship? No, it’s simply preventing an illegal act, just as this is doing.

    They could aslo require valid ccard numbers when registering to post in those areas, should they wish to have an area for posting illegal activities. If you don’t want to be traceable via your ccard, then don’t post.

    As long as they show due effort in preventing these postings they shouln’t be liable, but with the scum lawyers in the world there isn’t anything short of reading each posting entirely.

    So, how about your signifcant other posting for hot sexx? Put it on a personal level and you’ll understand why we need to get back to proper values.

    • Guest

      Most websites are not manually monitored. They are programmed to set up an ad automatically. What keywords would set off the bells. They use words like massage. That’s a legit business, so that word wouldn’t alarm anyone. The word escort. No that won’t set the alarms either. The words that would set it off aren’t used in these ads. But lets look at what censorship will do not just for the adult industry but for all of us in the USA. If we allow the government to make internet, newpapers, and magazines to monitor their ads and censor anything that MIGHT be considered solicitation, would mean that everyone in this country will lose our rights to choose. You can’t tell someone what they can read or watch. But by doing what some thing is so outrageous, could end up costing us our freedoms. We already have lost most of it. Because good people think they are protecting our children and families. You’re not, you are giving them less freedoms. Also, what do you think is going to happen to these girls who put the ads online. If they have a pimp, he’ll just beat them and put them out on the streets more. If they do this on their own, then they will be out on the streets more and less safe. This censorship is going to create and open up a whole lot of worms and the people are not going to like what happens. As one person wrote, if you don’t want to read or see something, CLOSE THE PAGE ON THE COMPUTER OR CLOSE THE NEWSPAPER OR MAGAZINE. Because to censor one company will do nothing. You would have to do it to every newspaper and magazine too. Please don’t come back and say, oh you’re a man or woman who likes this stuff. WRONG!!! I’m an elderly woman who has not liked adult films or material all my life. But I know that censorship will be a lot worse for all of us, if we allow it. We have censored ourselves into a life that if one person doesn’t like something, they can get it censored and to hell with what the rest of the people want.

  • Rockman

    No. Feds want a big morality play story to show how they’re looking out for women, children and decent folk everywhere. If they were serious they’d legalize it and tax it.

    Reality is most hookers have been coached by their lawyers and the media to cry “sex trafficing” and “sexual slavery” when they’re busted. Sorry, other than Thailand, very few legitimate cases of sexual slavery occur in the US despite the hysteria of feminist groups which contend no woman would ever join the trade voluntarily (they must first be seduced and tricked by an evil male or sexualized by the brainwashing media).

    Legal in most of the EU and Vegas, prostitution can earn big bucks for pros like Elliot Spitzer’s gal. Hard for you idealists to accept but plenty of girls eagerly take the couple thousand a week (or night) hooking rather than a Starbucks job. In in Saudi and Malaysia, sheiks and sultans will pay 100K to have a pornstar for a few nights. Awful lot of girls would jump at that cash. Sorry, that’s the reality.

  • Michael

    Craigslist is no more a responsible party than a university would be responsible for material posted on a bulletin board in its commons areas. If some frat boy posted nude polaroids of his ex, is it the schools fault? Should the school pay to have people monitor the bulletin boards for illicit material? Or maybe they should invite the law enforcement agencies to get involved and monitor all communication channels that the university oversees. Its no different, colleges and universities are FOR profit institutions. I don’t think Craigslist advocates soliciting prostitution or the sex slave trade – I think people are missing the bigger picture here and, therefor, a golden opportunity. Craigslist could partner with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to have volunteers peruse the listings and have the ability to “escalate” a listing to a Craigslist admin, who could then either forward on the information to law enforcement or simply remove offensive listings or those that violate the AUP. Holding Craigslist responsible for the evil of others is quite simply a good old traditional witch hunt. It is MUCH easier to demonize the “evil corporate entity” who is transparent and quite visible in their actions than the much harder to find perpetrators of the sex slave & prostitution arena. USA – Missing the point, its what we do.

    • Cameralynns

      “Craigslist could partner with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to have volunteers peruse the listings and have the ability to “escalate” a listing to a Craigslist admin, who could then either forward on the information to law enforcement or simply remove offensive listings or those that violate the AUP. ”

      Now that’s the best idea I’ve heard yet. Catch them in their own “net”. I would hope that the center for missing and exploited children, as well as other centers for catching sex offenders and those that offer illegal sex are already doing this kind of search in the Craigs list community. Certainly it is a useful tool. It seems obvious to everyone that there is a problem with such listing there, so and obvious place to look to find offenders. Parntering with such centers may be considered entrapment, if Craigs list doesn’t do what it can do and should do to discourage such listing. If Craigs list monitored and forwarded information, it would certainly discourage anyone from posting illegal activites.

      As far as the empty homes that are posted for rent or sale, and then ransacked or used for drug trafficing, that is something that the person posting should be held responsible for. If you post it, keep your eye on the property… BE RESPONSIBLE.

  • http://www.philliplesbirel.com Phil Lesbirel

    I was led to believe we were all members of the world wide web. Have we just all become a subject of China? The people who use the web should have the opportunity to see and read whatever they desire. If the content is not for their liking then turn it off. That is why there is a delete button on all computers. The USA has no right to dictate to any web site as to what their content should be, for others in countries not under the control of the USA Government do have the right to view this website in all its entirety. So lay off USA and get your fingers and control out of my viewing world.

  • Guest

    This should be a non-issue. It was Craig’s fault. He caved in to pressure. The law is on his side. He should gotten a restraining order on those attorneys and ignore any other morons creating trouble. Let’s drop this will ya..


    This has got to be the biggest joke of the week. All the posters have done is move their adult ads to other categories throughout Craigslist, like Therapeutic, Casual Encounters, etc.

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