Craigslist's Response To Adult Service Criticisms: Hey, eBay's Worse Than Us!

from the um...-a-bit-tone-deaf dept

While I think the political and media campaign against Craigslist's adult services section is seriously misguided, I'm not so sure the company's latest strategy will help win over its critics. CEO Jim Buckmaster has taken to the Craigslist blog to point out that eBay is a hell of a lot worse at policing that type of content, highlighting multiple cases where classified ads on eBay owned sites blatantly (and in very not-safe-for-work fashion) pitch prostitution. This came about after Buckmaster was pointed to a Facebook group laughably claiming that using eBay's classifieds will help stop human trafficking. That's obviously ridiculous -- and even more ridiculous as Buckmaster points out how eBay's classifieds' sites do seem to be used for much worse than the questionable behavior that Craigslist is accused of enabling.

So I understand the reasoning behind Buckmaster's post. It's certainly a pretty ridiculous situation when you're accused of doing something downright evil, and your competitors are being promoted for doing the opposite -- when the actual evidence suggests quite a different story. On top of that, there's a bit of a nasty history between Craigslist and eBay (which owns a percentage of Craigslist, which Craigslist is not at all happy about). However, I'm not so sure the "hey, they're worse than us, even though everyone thinks they're golden," response is going to win over many people. It comes off a bit tone deaf, honestly. Yes, the situation is ridiculous, but this is an emotionally driven topic, and the response people want to see is what Craigslist is doing proactively, not how others are worse.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Jan, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 1:56pm

    Different countries

    The major difference is that eBay's prostitution content is on a site in Spain, where it is legal. Funny how he didn't mention that. eBay's classifieds don't have any personals in the US as far as I can see....

    I use Craigslist more than eBay, but I can't stand Craig and his holier than everyone attitude. He makes millions, yet somehow makes people think he is running a non-profit community service. Meanwhile, he is making a ton of money off illegal prostitution in the US. Hmmmm. Go to Spain, Craig. Then you can make your trade legal.

     

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  2.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 2:10pm

    There's a reason that Jim is the public face of CL.

    IIRC, Jim is autistic and a very focused person. It makes it so that he's hard to figure out at times. I forget the article I read that from but basically, he's not good at explaining himself on the same level as other people. So in essence, he's quite intelligent, just not really sociable. Same goes for the engineers at CL.

     

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  3.  
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    Lili Balfour, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 2:31pm

    Human Trafficking vs. Legal Prostitution and Porn

    "eBay's classifieds' sites do seem to be used for much worse than the questionable behavior that Craigslist is accused of enabling."

    Craigslist is accused of being the most popular place for child sex trafficking. eBay is accused of hosting legal adult entertainment ads and legal pornographic images.

    These are two different things.

    "Human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor: a modern-day form of slavery. It is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest, after the drug-trade."

    I don't care if a woman (or man) wants to exchange her (or his) body for sex. I don't care if someone wants to look at porn. Those are personal decisions. The problem is traffickers forcing children and other vulnerable people to work for them.

    They say that 25% of sex workers are in the industry by their own choice and 75% are involved due to poverty, drug addiction, or forced trafficking. I would rather spend my time worrying about the 75% that need help than the 25% that want to be left alone.

     

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  4.  
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    Scott@DreamlandVisions (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 2:35pm

    Responses people want?

    Why would Craig, et al.. be concerned with the emotional response people *want*? It's irrelavent.

    Craigslist no more nor less enables prostitution or any other less than legal activity when compared to news papers, blogs, facebook, one-model-place or any other social site.

    The discussion needs to be focused on those who are breaking the law. If Craig needs to take proactive steps, then so do the ISPs, the upstream bandwidth providers, etc. They all are "enabling" the posting of prostitution adverts on websites.

    Much like copyright laws, blue laws are running head long into the anonymizing, socializing and globalization of the participants that the internet allows.

     

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  5.  
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    DCX2, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Human Trafficking vs. Legal Prostitution and Porn

    75% are involved due to poverty, drug addiction, or forced trafficking. I would rather spend my time worrying about the 75% that need help than the 25% that want to be left alone.

    I agree with you on this. If they're consenting adults, GTFO and let them be consenting adults.

    However, for those 75% that are forced into prostitution because of poverty...perhaps a better social safety net would alleviate the need for women to sell their body in order to feed their mouth?

    But why would anyone want to pay more taxes so that those women can get a free lunch courtesy of our hard work?

    Maybe if drugs were decriminalized, there would be opportunities for the drug addicts to escape prostitution. But why should we care about some junkie?

    Maybe if prostitution were legal and well regulated, then the demand for forced trafficking could be reduced. But why should we care about perverts who want to pay for sex?

     

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  6.  
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    Coward (Anon), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    Child trafficking

    I'll admit to having perused the adult sections of Craigslist on occasion but never have I seen anything resembling child or underage prostitution. Most of the ads are from college girls working their way through school and bored MILF housewives looking for a little excitement mixed in with a few old-line escort agencies (most of these know better than use CL). These ads have always existed, they used to be in the personals in your local free paper and as well as the major paper's classified section. The ads were more subtle but still there if you knew what you were looking for. The agencies advertised in the yellow pages openly.

    Until CL started their personals sections, the ads appeared randomly in other sections. Nothing like looking for an apartment or used computer and having picture of a naked women appear. The personals section at least isolated those ads to a single place. If you don't want to see those ads, don't look in those sections.

    I'd also like to see a reference to the 25%/75% numbers quoted above. It certainly hasn't been my experience, but maybe I'm just looking in the right place.

     

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  7.  
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    Lili Balfour, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 4:16pm

    re: Child trafficking

    Coward - the underage victims I've met didn't look underage to me. Some 12 year olds look 20. Miley Cyrus is 15, but could pass for 30.

    There is a bunch of research on the topic at www.prostitutionresearch.com

    Below is the study that I mentioned. I was wrong, it wasn't 75%, it was 92%. It would be interesting to see the US only numbers. I've yet to find them. If it's only 50% in the US, that's still too many people.

    In a study of 475 people in prostitution (including women, men, and the transgendered) from five countries (South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, USA, and Zambia):

    62% reported having been raped in prostitution.
    73% reported having experienced physical assault in prostitution.
    72% were currently or formerly homeless.
    92% stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately.
    (Melissa Farley, Isin Baral, Merab Kiremire, Ufuk Sezgin, "Prostitution in Five Countries: Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder" (1998) Feminism & Psychology 8 (4): 405-426

    Here's another interesting statistic:

    In 1993, 42% of women arrested in Seattle on prostitution-related charges were convicted.

    In 1993, 8% of men arrested in Seattle on prostitution-related charges were convicted.

    (Seattle Women's Commission, 1995, "Project to Address the Legal, Political, and Service Barriers Facing Women in the Sex Industry" Seattle, Washington.

    Why are women, who are generally not there by choice, the ones that are convicted? Any female who claims to care about gender equality should be concerned about this.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:02pm

    Re: re: Child trafficking

    It would be interesting to contrast those numbers with rehabilitation centers and the like to see how many prostitutes that comes in go out of that life, many in my experience have sad histories which is a tragedy but would not fit anywhere else and so they continue to do what they do.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:08pm

    Re: re: Child trafficking

    What I'm saying is that sad stories alone are not enough to get all worked out about it. Most homeless would complain also and have the same sets of statistics but many are unwilling or unable, for whatever reason, to change.

    I know it seems harsh to say such things, but it is true any one who have contact for a extend period of time with those people will tell you the same, most people that end up there are emotionally broken and most of them beyond repair.

    The point being those numbers means nothing from a practical point of view without the accounts from the people who try to help them on day to day basis.

     

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  10.  
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    fb (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 5:37am

    Facebook angle?

    According to TechCrunch, there's a Facebook group called "Stop Craigslist Human Trafficking Choose Ebay Classifieds" that might have kicked this thing off.

    source: http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/17/ebay-loquo-sex-trafficking-craigslist/

     

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  11.  
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    JC, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 6:07am

    Re: re: Child trafficking

    It says 92% want to "escape" immediately.

    Not that 92% are "forced" into the business.

    A lot of people want to "escape" their job, it doesn't mean they are "forced" to work there.

     

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  12.  
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    re: child trafficking, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 7:38am

    Coward - I've volunteered at homeless shelters and with organizations that rescue human trafficking victims and women who are exiting prostitution. The one observation that applies to all three populations is that there are different reasons for their situation.

    These are rough numbers on the homeless population based on my observations:

    10% lost their job, had medical problems or are exiting a domestic violence situation
    60% suffer from mental illness (depression, anxiety, bi polar disorder) and /or drug addiction
    30% suffer from severe mental illness (schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder or PTSD)

    You can say the same about the sex industry

    10% are adults who choose to work in the industry
    60% are runaways, homeless, foster kids or people trying to enter this country who are being manipulated
    30% are severely addicted to drugs and are merely working to support their habit day-to-day or hour-by-hour

    100% of trafficking victims are forced against their will

    "most people that end up there are emotionally broken and most of them beyond repair."

    I agree that most of these people are emotionally broken, but they are not beyond repair. The key is to understand what broke them.

    More than 75% of teenage prostitutes were sexually abused as children.

    http://www.darkness2light.org/knowabout/statistics_2.asp

    One "repaired" prostitute explained it this way, "I was taught as a young girl that sex leads to reward. My abuser would give me candy when he was done. Of course I gravitated toward a job that rewards me for sex."

    The problem is that child sexual abuse is rampant. This is creating generations of young people who are sexually dysfuntional and "emotionally broken."

    JC - did you read what I wrote?

    "They say that 25% [8%] of sex workers are in the industry by their own choice and 75% [92%] are involved due to poverty, drug addiction, or forced trafficking."

    The 92% are not their by "choice" which is why they want to "escape immediately." If they were there by choice they would stay.

     

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  13.  
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    Prof Patt (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Is that really what we want?

    If the Craigslist Adult Services section is shut down, that would take away from law enforcement a very useful tool that I am sure they are currently using to identify and counter illicit activity. Is that really what we want? - Prof Patt, http://gvnet.com/humantrafficking/

     

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  14.  
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    Lili Balfour, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 10:45am

    Pat - Thanks for your input. If I need a new website I'll call you.

    The groups that actually investigate human trafficking follow the leads of the victims. The victims point to Craigslist and that is exactly why the focus is on Craigslist.

    The Fair Fund reported that 50% of their victims were sold on Craigslist. This problem has been going on for nearly a decade. What Craigslist is doing is not working, so yes they should shut it down.

    There was a legal web cam site that reported to authorities that some of the girls who were "performing" on their site seemed to be forced. There is an active investigation on that site. It doesn't matter where traffickers go, they will be found.

     

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  15.  
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    Mao, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    Craigslist wants everyone to believe that because things on their site are less graphic (ie, no pornographic photos on their ads) that out of site means out of mind.

    the point of those who oppose the current issues relating to Criaglist adult services advertising is NOT that the ads themselves are porngraphic, but that they are facilitating sex trafficking.

    We may not be confronted with pictures of it, but the unwilling children and other victims of sex trafficking through Craigslist result in them performing the acts (and more) as a result of people answering the ads.

    so what if we dont see pictures of sex acts? the trafficking is still there, and needs to be eliminated.

     

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  16.  
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    wayne, Sep 5th, 2010 @ 1:54am

    they'll just use the "casual encounters" section to post their sex for pay ads.

    I don't agree one bit with their decision to take down the adult services section for any reason. I know I'm not the only one who used that section to look at softcore nudes (when they did not censor the postings at all a few years back). Then they bowed at the feet of the political activists and agreed to censor the listings and more them elsewhere. This took away some solid amateur hotties showing off their skin.

    I disagree with prostitution being a crime in general and to succumb to political pressure to remove a section of a website that is officially against sex for pay and for nonsexual acts like "massages and escorts" is just plain ridiculous.

    Come on Craig, help these chicks get paid.

    Hell craigslist could have moved their servers to a country outside the US if they wanted to and given those liberals the big F U.

     

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  17.  
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    Thomas, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 11:16pm

    Craig has shut down the erotic services but Kijiji is gnawing at Ebay's own auction market share.
    Is it just a coincidence that Ebay's auction performance has gone down since kijiji was introduced to the US and Canada markets!?

     

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