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US states call on Craigslist to remove 'Adult Services' ads

Text by Eric Olander

Latest update : 2010-08-26

The popular online classified service came under renewed criticism this week for the site's 'Adult Services' section. Attorneys General from 17 states allege the ads promote prostitution as well as violence against women and children.

In a new effort to crack down on prostitution, a group of senior law enforcement officials from across the United States have issued an open letter to Craigslist urging the website to shut down its popular ‘Adult Services’ ads. In their letter, 17 Attorneys General allege these kinds of ads on Craigslist promote violence against women and children. “The increasingly sharp public criticism of Craigslist’s Adult Services section reflects a growing recognition that ads for prostitution – including ads trafficking children – are rampant on it,” wrote the state AGs. 

State Attorneys General in the US serve as the top legal officer in each state and play a prominent role in overseeing law enforcement.
 
Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster responded to the letter with a blog post in which he said he agreed with their drive to combat sexual violence and exploitation. However, Buckmaster contends that his site does, in fact, work hard to ensure that postings for illegal sexual services are filtered out:
 
“Before being posted each individual ad is reviewed by an attorney licensed to practice law in the US, trained to enforce Craigslist’s posting guidelines, which are stricter than those typically used by yellow pages, newspapers, or any other company that we are aware of. More than 700,000 ads were rejected by those attorneys in the year following implementation of manual screening, for falling short of our guidelines.”
 
T
he Craigslist CEO added that he was working with legal and human rights groups to devise new guidelines for adult ads.
 
The Attorneys General are not looking for compromise, though. They want Craigslist to remove the entire Adult Services section just as it did in May when the company eliminated the site’s ‘Erotic Services’ listings.
 
If the company does, in fact, screen each ad for illegal sexual activity, it either appears to be ignoring or simply missing a majority of listings that advertise seemingly unlawful activity. A cursory glance through Craiglist Los Angeles Adult Services listings revealed hundreds of women advertising phone numbers and rates for presumed sexual services. Many of the ads feature pictures of young women, many of which, according to the Attorneys General, are minors. While the ads may be technically legal, depending on the specific verbiage and images, the Attorneys General reminded the company that they are determined to press ahead with the drive to close the online classified market for prostitution.

 

Date created : 2010-08-26

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