Craigslist Relents to Pressure, Ends Erotic Ads

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


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Under mounting pressure by several state attorneys general, the popular Craigslist online forum for selling goods and services will replace its ‘Erotic’ ads with a new, moderated ‘Adult Services’ section. Want to take it a step further: Recommend filtering.

After weeks of mounting pressure by several state law enforcement agencies, Craigslist was brought to its knees and relented to give up its "Erotic" ads service on its popular online forum for swapping and selling goods and services.

Over the next week, Craigslist will replace the erotic ads section with a new, moderated "Adult Services" section, in which humans will review and filter all postings for blatant prostitution solicitations and pornographic images. Craigslist will charge $10 for each ad and reposting of approved listings for $5.

San Francisco-based Craigslist admitted no wrongdoing in its decision and, in its blog, stated that its forum is not replete with criminals and illicit activities.

"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," stated the Craigslist blog.

Craigslist’s change comes after weeks of criticism and pressure by several state attorneys general, who called the forum an "online brothel" that encouraged and facilitated illegal activities such as prostitution and the exploitation of women. Concerns over Craigslist’s erotic ads peaked following the arrest of a Boston medical student who allegedly assaulted and killed a woman who advertised sensual massages on Craigslist.

Critics say the Craigslist change is a cosmetic relabeling of the illicit services. Some people question how Craigslist will manually inspect each adult services listing; the company has only 28 employees and hundreds of erotic postings are submitted to the site each day. Few expect the change to result in a complete removal of erotic and pornographic material from the site; and law enforcement officials admit that numerous other Web sites offer similar services.

For solution providers and IT resellers, the publicity around Craigslist’s erotic ads could open new opportunities for selling and implementing Web filters, such as those offered by Websence, Purewire, Check Point and Trend Micro. By using Web filtering to black list and restrict access to sites such as Craigslist, companies can limit their risk exposure associated with elicit online material and keep employees from inadvertently viewing inappropriate material.

However, Web filtering does have its downside for solution providers and IT resellers. Hundreds of solution providers use Craigslists and similar forums for selling their goods and services in local communities. Increased filtering and blacklisting could keep potential customers from finding their service offerings.

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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