Craigslist has blocked its adult-services section with a black "censored" bar, with no comment from founder Craig Newmark or CEO Jim Buckmaster. No one's saying whether this is permanent, or just a publicity stunt to generate support. The ads can still be accessed outside the U.S., and Boston Channel reports that Craigslist seems to be "directing content from the old adult services section to the casual encounters section."
Attorneys general for 17 states wrote Buckmaster last month, asking him to remove the adult services. Nonprofits opposed to human trafficking also have protested. Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart sued last year. The AFP reported his news conference:
"Craigslist is the single largest source of prostitution in the nation. ... Missing children, runaways, abused women and women trafficked in from foreign countries are routinely forced to have sex with strangers because they're being pimped on Craigslist."
An FBI investigation found last year that more than 2,800 child prostitution ads had been posted on Craigslist and a recent nationwide sweep for child trafficking and prostitution netted hundreds of arrests, he added.
The section was called "erotic services" then. Authorities say that's where Philip Markoff met Julissa Brisman, whom he killed, as well as a woman he robbed and another he attacked. He committed suicide last month. On Friday, a man in D.C. pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting four women he met through "erotic services."
Craigslist promised to donate 100 percent of the proceeds of its erotic-services ads to charity. Although it wouldn't profit from the ads, authorities said, the ads still drove traffic to the site. Companies also donate to lower taxes and get good PR, of course. It no longer promised to donate profits after it renamed the section "adult services" and started to monitor it more closely last year. The AIM group reports:
Craigslist was on track to generate almost $45 million in revenue this year from its “adult services” section — thinly disguised ads for prostitutes.
Although the controversy is framed as the First Amendment vs. censors, pro-sex liberals vs. anti-sex prudes who want to control what women do with their bodies, the real issue is business. It just happens to play out on the bodies of women and girls.