Craigslist Pressured Into Policing Ads For Prostitution

from the misplaced-blame dept

We've talked plenty about how New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has been using legal threats to get companies to change business practices, even if those practices aren't illegal. But, he's not the only Attorney General who tries to make headlines with bogus legal threats. Neighboring Connecticut has Richard Blumenthal, who has similarly blamed companies for the actions of their users. First, it was Facebook for having sexual predators on the site, and then it was Craigslist for for having prostitution ads. You'll notice in all of these cases, the threats involve actions that are generally considered less than socially acceptable. This way, even though the companies being blamed are not liable and clearly protected by section 230 of the CDA (you would think, as AGs, Cuomo and Blumenthal would, I dunno, know the law...), the threat of bad publicity gets companies to cave.

And, in fact, it appears that Craigslist has, indeed, been pressured into agreeing to monitor postings on its websites to try to prevent prostitution ads. 39 other Attorneys General joined in with Blumenthal, so it's of little surprise that Craigslist agreed to do this, even though it seems pretty clear that the law was on its side. As a service provider, it is in no way responsible or liable for the content placed on its site. The law and various court rulings are pretty clear on that, but when you have 40 Attorneys General gunning for you, painting you as a proponent of prostitution, sometimes it makes sense to cave.

The most ridiculous thing, of course, is that this will do little to nothing to actually deal with the root issue. Prostitution will continue -- and it will continue online. Those who used Craigslist before will simply move on to other sites. In fact, those sites will be much trickier to find and track down, meaning that it now becomes much more difficult for authorities to crack down on the actual law breakers. In fact, we've noted that police say that Craigslist is a very useful tool in monitoring and cracking down on prostitution. And, now, to get some headlines about how these AGs were "tough" on prostitution, they've just taken that tool away from police, while opening the door to forcing Craigslist to have to monitor posts on its site -- something the law says the company need not do.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 3:55pm

    Yeah, luckily you need Craigslist to get prostitues, and can't just go the the streets of New York or just about any other city and find a prostitute.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    duane (profile), Nov 6th, 2008 @ 4:01pm

    Oh, but you've forgotten the best part...

    Now that we know that Craigslist can be monitored for prostitution posts, we know that it can be monitored. Whioch means watching for things like obscenity, hate speech, drug deals, and scams. Now, when someone rips me off on Craigslist, I can sue the pants off, um, Craig, I guess, because he should have known that post was just a scheme to take my money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Michial, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 4:15pm

    Craigslist sure caved...

    Considering that Craigslist is NOT being required to MONITOR anything, and what they actually are doing is simply charging for the ads to be posted it would seem that they caved into nothing more than another profit center.

    Get your facts straight, CL is/was required to do NOTHING, they volenteered to do it. They are now going to CHARGE money for ads in the Erotic Services category, and simply keep records of those posting ads.

    It will still take a subpena to get the records, and CL will do nothing more that cooperate at the same levels as they always have.

    Since charging for using areas of CL is nothing new. They began charging businesses to post ads in the jobs section a few months ago. It would seem that all they are doing is expanding that profit center, and using the lawsuit as an excuse.

    PLEASE before you cry poor poor craigslist, get your facts straight.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Finally!, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 6:33pm

    YES!!

    Finally!!

    The south is not the only people who's insanely conservative! See? The crazy's are everywhere!!! Stop it before its too late!!!

    ***NOTE: I am from the south and I hate the conservativeness of the south.****

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 6:40pm

    Actually, it might be in CL's best interest to keep stuff like that out if it can do so cheaply and efficiently. If the site gets lots of stuff like that, people sensitive to "erotic services" might decide there are better places to sell their stuff.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 8:42pm

    Why is prostitution illegal?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 11:27pm

    Why is prostitution illegal?

    Because this country is run by puritans. There are more laws against sex than there are against killing someone.

    Killings typically fall into four categories; Accidental killing that could have been prevented, accidental killing that couldn't have been prevented, intentional killing for a selfish reason (greed, jealousy, etc), intentional killing to save a life. The first & third are crimes, the second and fourth aren't.

    When it comes to sex, you have to consider the absolute ages of the people involved, the relative ages if either one is under a certain age, the location they're doing it in, whether either one is charging for it, exactly what acts they're engaging in (depending on the area they're in), whether anyone else can see them doing it, if consent was properly given by both people, the type and amount of toys they might be using (some areas), how many people are involved, whether they're filming the act (depending on their ages it might be legal for them to have sex, but illegal to film it), the married status of the people involved (some areas), etc.

    The USA has a very large stick up its collective ass when it comes to sex.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 2:47am

    Re:

    "The USA has a very large stick up its collective ass when it comes to sex. "

    Which is quite amusing given the fact that it's almost certainly the largest porn producing country on the planet.

    Not to mention the fact that hot, scantily clad women are used to advertise everything from clothes to toothpaste.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 4:27am

    Re: YES!!

    ***NOTE: Move to the North or West or somewhere else. ***

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Nov 7th, 2008 @ 5:45am

    Re: Re:

    I think Japan would give us a run for our money on that one. I am sure we have them beat and are probably first, but I would not doubt they are second.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Wolfy, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 8:37am

    The more "puritan" an area is, the more the people in it will seek in the underground what they are deprived of in the above-ground. Grand Rapids, Michigan has more churches Per Capita than any other US city. Yet their demand for sex goods rivals any other population!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    matt, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 8:38am

    pointless

    I dont see the big deal. If you ever look at the personals pages on CL, all the "for hire" type pages get flagged very quickly.

    Users do a good job of keeping escort ads off the site already.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Tara Hurley, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:41am

    Craigs List

    I have done a documentary on Rhode Island’s legal prostitution. Every spa in RI uses Craig’s List for advertising, and it is legal. I urge everyone to take a look at the web site and trailer on youtube. See one state where the activity is legal and make a decision for yourself. Hear from the women who are “behind closed doors”. Watch the fight for and against prostitution laws.
    http://www.happyendingsdoc.com
    http://happyendingsdoc.wordpress.com
    http://www.youtube.com/ happyendingsdoc
    http://www.myspace.com/happyendingsdoc

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Nov 8th, 2008 @ 3:19am

    Which is quite amusing given the fact that it's almost certainly the largest porn producing country on the planet.

    Rest assured that that fact is a constant thorn in the side of every conservative group. They'd like nothing better than to get porn banned completely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    toddilac, Jan 2nd, 2009 @ 10:45am

    so can you get in trouble for eskorts on CL

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This