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The Craigslist Challenge Continues

South Carolina: Craigslist is Operating an Online Brothel

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Craig Newmark never killed anyone. In fact, all Craig wanted to do was help people. Unfortunately, Philip Markoff possibly did kill someone, and he found his lead on Craig’s website, Craigslist.org.

Craig NewmarkThankfully, Craig himself is not responsible. In 1995, when Newmark started up a little website that helped people stay informed about community events, he had no idea that it would mushroom into a global phenomenon that bears seismic impact on the economy as a whole. Entire businesses have been formed around Craigslist. People find jobs on Craigslist. People buy furniture on Craigslist. People sell houses on Craigslist. People find spouses on Craigslist. It is one of those sites that reminds you of DOS-based interface—an eyesore. But the raw functionality of the site is astounding. And it works. Nearly 8,000 people visit Craigslist every second.

With that kind of viral growth, something bad was bound to happen. Bad people can corrupt any good thing. The Philip Markoff case is enough of a warning sign to bring the bad potential of Craigslist to greater light. Now, Craigslist faces criminal investigation for its alleged role in unknowingly aiding illegal activity.

Among the illegal activity that Craigslist inadvertently supports is prostitution, "nothing but filth," according to South Carolina’s Attorney General, Henry McMaster, who is instrumental in leading the charges against Craigslist. Connecticut prosecutor Blumenthal explains, "No question, absolutely none, that Craigslist is operating an online brothel here." 

These are not light charges, and Craigslist must respond. To their credit, the Terms of Use explain that users "agree not to post, email, or otherwise make available content that is pornographic," and et. al. The thumbscrews on Craigslist tighten when prosecutors level the charge that Craigslist is not working hard enough to keep the site clean. Craigslist is not going away, but hopefully some of the less-than-desirable elements of it will. "Casual encounters" which have turned not-so-casual, and "erotic services" which overstep the bounds of legality, will be the focus of discussion and controversy as the Craigslist challenge continues.

The Craigslist Challenge Continues
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  • Guest

    Why is this an issue now. Print newspapers have always had illicit ads posted. Why wasn’t the newspaper industry attacked for printing (and receiving revenues from) illegal ads? Flip open any newspaper in the country & you can find illegal services. Craig’s website is not to blame!

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