Craigslist Blamed Yet Again For Something It Didn't Do

from the just-can't-help-it,-huh? dept

Weren’t we just pointing out that everyone seems to want to blame Craigslist for things that it has no responsibility for? The latest is Connecticut’s Attorney General, who has attacked Craigslist for allowing ads for prostitution. This is hardly a new charge. Last summer, the mayor of Atlanta lobbed similar charges at Craigslist. But, of course, just like that time, the blame is misplaced. Craigslist is the tool provider, not the content provider. To blame Craigslist isn’t just wrong, when it comes to illegal acts like prostitution, it’s downright backwards. Why? Because as some police have realized, Craigslist is actually a really useful tool for police to track down and arrest people breaking the law.

So not only is it placing the blame on the wrong party, it’s doing so in a way that would only drive the prostitution further underground, making it harder for the police (and the Attorney General’s office) to do their job. How smart is that? But it sure does generate headlines… The Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, had this to say in a letter to Craigslist:

“I am astonished and appalled by Craigslist’s refusal to recognize the reality of prostitution on its Web site — despite advertisements containing graphic photographs and hourly rates, and widespread public reports of prostitutes using the site.”

To which I can only reply: I am astonished and appalled by Richard Blumenthal’s refusal to recognize the reality of liability and section 230 safe harbors — despite it being the law of the land and widely known and discussed in legal circles.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: craigslist

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Craigslist Blamed Yet Again For Something It Didn't Do”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
87 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'm astonished that you're astonished

Um, State Government != Federal Government.

“The Administration” traditionally referes to the President and others of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

This is Connecticut’s Attorney General. State appointed ect.

Aside from possibly being buddy buddy with the Administration, or sympathetic with them, he has no real relation.

Or atleast, isn’t supposed to. If Connecticut sues President Bush, he’s the one that does the representing for the State so you would hope so.

Billy Jeah says:

Re: Shut them down.

Why don’t we institute marshal law across the land while we’re at it. Laws are broken every day….we should forget liberty and freedom because ‘I am offended’ and I actually see someone breaking the law not just know it. Time for ‘lock-down’.
I hope your post was meant as sarcastic as mine!

Jacob says:

You Belong in Connecticut

Another Connecticut Jew whining on about changing a system they personally disagree with, regardless of laws protecting them from doing so. In all my years in this fine state I have seen this behavior on the town, county, and state level so often it is nearly impossible to take seriously anymore. There is always an ulterior motive, this is the one media outlet the Jews don’t control and he probably just can’t accept that.

Mike4 says:

Re: You Belong in Connecticut

Are you kidding me? How does his religion have anything to do with his actions? I’m Jewish and I strongly disagree with Richard Blumenthal’s statement. I completely agree with Mike (as always) and my religion has nothing to do with my personal opinion. In fact, most of my family would probably feel the same – except for the elder members (which is usually the case in these types of stories).

It sounds like you probably believe all people of a certain race, religion, or nationality deserve to be grouped together and I hate to sound like a 4th grade assembly, but stereotypes are usually nonsense. If you actually think that “Jews control everything,” you are ignorant.

In fact, it’s funny to me you think Jews control everything, yet I’m struggling to get by every day. Is there an 800 number or an email address where I can contact someone to let them know they forget about me? If there is some conspiracy run by the Jews, I think I rightfully deserve to be part of it.

– Mike, a Jew from Jersey

Matthew says:

Re: You Belong in Connecticut

Although parts of your comment may be completely valid, your thought are over shadowed by your blatent antisemitism. Although the Jew’s control over the media was a rallying point in Nazi era Germany it is no longer correct or relevant. Jews no longer control most major media outlets and your backwards and offensive personal opinions have no place in a comment which preports to be factual.

Ari (user link) says:

Re: You Belong in Connecticut

“There is always an ulterior motive, this is the one media outlet the Jews don’t control and he probably just can’t accept that.”

How big of an idiot do you want to look like? The guy who owns craiglist is Jewish. (http://www.nndb.com/people/727/000057556/)

Also, if you don’t like the contributions of Jews, enjoy a life with Polio and Polytheism (or does the Bible not count as a media outlet?), and without: the cellphone (startac invented in Israel), the Pentium chip (invented in Israel), the atomic science (nuclear energy, radiation therapy, etc), flouride toothpaste, and the remote control.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have invented the remote control – then maybe you’d get off your fat, tooth-decayed ass and take note of all the great things Jews have given to the world, including Craigslist.

Joe says:

Carlin said it best.

I still don’t understand why prostitution is illegal. Why is it illegal to sell something that is perfectly legal to give away for free? And it is certainly a win/win situation for both parties. The lawmakers should just legalize it and find a way to tax it, then they could fund 2 more wars just with the sex tax alone.

Mike4 says:

Re: Carlin said it best.

I still don’t understand why prostitution is illegal. Why is it illegal to sell something that is perfectly legal to give away for free? And it is certainly a win/win situation for both parties. The lawmakers should just legalize it and find a way to tax it, then they could fund 2 more wars just with the sex tax alone.

Blame it on the Jews, right Jacob?

I agree, Joe – it really should be legal (at least in more places than just NV and RI). Unfortunately, I don’t see that ever happening since the people in power (I’m not referring to Jews, Jacob) consider it taboo and immoral. It’s a shame because while I would probably never use the service, there are plenty of people (not just men) who just don’t have the ability to have sex regularly – if ever. Whether they are ugly, obese, awkward, etc., I think they should be allowed to buy sex if they choose to.

There is always a risk of disease being spread, but shouldn’t that be my choice to make? What happened to the freedom that I (any many, many others) was told I was defending when I put on a uniform? I love my country, but it seems like more and more of our freedom is steadily being taken away.

I’ve always disagreed with laws that protect us from ourselves.

Nasch says:

Re: Re: Re: Carlin said it best.

“Why is it illegal to sell something that is perfectly legal to give away for free? “

The only other thing I can think of where that’s the case (at least in the US) is organs (like kidneys, not pipe organs). So do you feel the same way about those? I’m not saying it’s necessarily wrong (though there are ethical considerations), but if that’s your position it should apply to other things besides sex.

“Yes Mike prostitution should be legal so more men have other avenues to cheat on their wife or girlfriend,. You are a moron.”

If the only reason a man is not cheating on his wife is for lack of opportunity, there’s something very wrong with the relationship anyway. Maybe freely available prostitution would get the problem out in the open sooner.

R. H. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Carlin said it best.

I do agree with Joe’s point of view here and I also agree with the idea of being able to do what I wish with my body parts, up to and including, selling them to the highest bidder. I consider myself to be capable of making the decision to make a good deal of money on that extra kidney of mine. Just regulate it so that the procedure must be done with standard medical provisions unlike much of the ‘black market’ organ harvesting that occurs in developing nations, and I’d be perfectly fine with it.

Alimas says:

Re: Re: Carlin said it best.

Exactly!

I hate the laws meant to protect us from ourselves.
And prostitution being illegal isn’t even one of safety, its a sexist hangover from the concept that females shouldn’t be allowed to be sexual (this would turn into a much different larger topic).

And I should totally be allowed to sell my organs on EBay, on my laptop with a downloaded copy of Windows, while driving on the highway, getting serviced by a prostitute with no seat-belt and juggling a cellphone.

If I die its my fault. If I take someone with me, tough.
If I don’t die but injure myself and others, sue the hell out of me.

Nasch says:

Re: Re: Re: Carlin said it best.

“If I die its my fault. If I take someone with me, tough.”

This is the part I have a problem with. Part of the government’s job is to protect me from idiots like you who would hurt me accidentally, as well as malicious people who would hurt me on purpose. I don’t deserve to die because you want a blow job while sending email and driving drunk, and neither does anyone else except you. As you say, if you die it’s your fault, but your rights stop where they infringe on my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Rose M. Welch says:

Oh, my God!

They need to sue Yahoo! also because I get spam IMs offering shit like that all the time. How about suing the hosting sites that host the websites that offer prostitution? Or the companies that the prostitutes purchased their domain names from? Oh, oh, how about suing the hotels where they might work… Let’s sue EVERYONE! It’s be beautiful…

TW Burger (profile) says:

As AC in comment 13 pointed out Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has no intention of actually doing anything except using taxpayer dollars for promoting Richard Blumenthal. He knows he can’t charge Craigslist with any crime and he has no intention of doing anything about prostitution.

He is a politician making noise instead of taking action. And because people, as a group (me included), are stupid, or at least apathetic, governing by rhetoric always has worked and always will.

Matt (profile) says:

Yeah, but...

Craigslist hosts a section for “Erotic Services.” Isn’t that just a euphemism for dirty deeds done dirt… well, kinda expensive, but… That ain’t how the song goes.

This could, I’m sure, but argued that it’s “intended” for things like the cambabes that want to charge you $5 a minute to watch them do whatever it is that you want for them to do. But c’mon, does anyone really believe that this is what that’s for? Seriously?

To be honest, I don’t care if a woman (or a man, for that matter) wishes to sell their bodies for whatever purposes so long as the acts are not illegal-in-the-hey-how-old-is-she-seven?-eight? arena, and as long as these people are being as safe as they possibly can be and aren’t spreading/contracting social diseases. I don’t care, and I don’t believe that the government should, either.

But to say that Craigslist doesn’t know what’s going on with their own site? That they don’t know what an ad talks about when the listing says “full service?” Hint: she’s not gonna put gas in your car and check the oil level.

Rose M. Welch says:

Yes, but...

…the question is whether Craigslist should be forced to spend lots of money hiring peeople to police or moderate the ads. I think that’s unfair. If the government wants it policed, they can police it themselves by prosecuting the PEOPLE who advertise things they shouldn’t.

However, I’m reasonably sure that there isn’t a law against advertising it, only doing it, which is why police can’t randonmly round-up the streetcorner version and take them in.

Rekrul says:

Blumenthal is an idiot. Toward the end of last year he tried to block AT&T from offering its U-Verse TV service on the grounds that it should have to abide by the exact same rules as traditional cable TV, even though Connecticut had recently passed a law giving the ok to just this type of service. He eventually relented after a public outcry.

Supposedly, this was to protect consumers. Since AT&T started offering TV service for less, I’ve gotten a couple ads from the only local cable company offering me an even cheaper deal. Are lower prices what he was trying to protect me against?

As for prostitution; If authorities really wanted to protect people, they’d legalize and regulate it. Less diseases, no incentive to submit to a pimp, they can stop watsing money to catch and prosecute non-criminals. Everyone wins. Well, except for the bible thumpers who would start screaming that the end of civilization is at hand…

Billy Jeah says:

Re: Re:

Biblically speaking, prostitution is one of the oldest professions in the world. However, it was conducted in a business-like way and the women were not married. It was….a way to make a living for women of less-than-optimal economic situations/opportunities. They did not do it because they liked it (necessarily) or because they wanted to but because few options were open to them from a professional perspective.

Ok. I am a ‘Bible thumper'(those are your words, not mine) and I am also a nurse. I do not necessarily disagree with you in regards to legalizing prostitution. From a public health perspective it would probably make regulation of health issues more efficient and better. Oh, and I am married and I don’t worry about my husband being ‘led astray’ by any of these women. Tax them (prostitutes/Johns/pimps) as you would any ‘sin’ (smoking, alcohol) and regulate them. If someone wants to participate, whatever….it is NOT ‘love’, it is a physiological release (like the endorphins released during a sport). The girls should be protected and monitored as should the participants.

As for prostitution, it occurs in MANY different arenas in our society and is less regulated than tobacco or alcohol. For instance, I disagree with how much $$$ is spent on team athletics (high-school, college, professional, etc.) It is a sin and we are ‘prostituting’ the players to benefit the owner(s)/schools. But, because the act of intercourse is not involved, this prostitution in our society is viewed as acceptable (overall). And some sports organizations have even achieved a ‘tax exempt’ status. How the heck does that happen? Tell me how the NFL can be a ‘Non-Profit’? That’s BS! I do my charity work in addition to my nursing. Does that mean I should be able to achieve ‘Non-Profit’ status? NO.

Leave Craig’s List alone and just put it in perspective.

Tracy says:

Craigslist and prositution

Every website owner should indeed be held responsible for its’ content. The fact of the matter is that prostitution is illegal, so craigslist should be held responsible for is posted there. If they don’t want the responsibility then they need to take down there website. As for prostitution itself, I am sure all of you perverted men out there would just love to see it legalized. Someone said that women give it away for free. If it was so freely given away then I am sure no one in their right mind would be paying for it, so it isn’t that easy to get sex from strangers unless you pay. I for one don’t want it legal.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Craigslist and prositution

Every website owner should indeed be held responsible for its’ content. The fact of the matter is that prostitution is illegal, so craigslist should be held responsible for is posted there.

And yet, you posted this comment here with no say from us at Techdirt. Should we be responsible for your comments?

When someone commits a crime using the telephone, do you blame AT&T?

Matt (profile) says:

Re: Craigslist and prositution

Thanks for your narrow-band view on the matter.

The fact remains that, if a woman so desired, she could sell her eggs… and indeed her whole damn uterus! to another person or couple if she desired. However, selling the vagina? No, that’s where we draw the line.

It’s easy, and, let’s face it, LAZY as hell to brand me as a… What was it… “perverted {man],” by saying that prostitution should be legal. But I think that prostitution, provided that it’s by the woman’s (or man’s) free will, should be a matter of choice.

This, I feel, also should apply to abortion. Your body is, or should be, about the only thing that you can truly own in the free and clear. Free will, rather than someone else’s narrow interpretation of archaic and quaint religious dogma, should be the law.

Tracy, if you’re that damn prudish about it, go buy yourself a chastity belt and shut the hell up. Don’t pretend that your views represent the rest of the population, or that yours has any more validity than mine does.

bingbada says:

Re: Craigslist and prositution

this reminds me of the whole xm sirius merger thing.
radio, with it’s sub par offerings is mortified at the thought of quality competition.

Craigslist and prositution by Tracy on Mar 29th, 2008 @ 3:26pm
Every website owner should indeed be held responsible for its’ content. The fact of the matter is that prostitution is illegal, so craigslist should be held responsible for is posted there. If they don’t want the responsibility then they need to take down there website. As for prostitution itself, I am sure all of you perverted men out there would just love to see it legalized. Someone said that women give it away for free. If it was so freely given away then I am sure no one in their right mind would be paying for it, so it isn’t that easy to get sex from strangers unless you pay. I for one don’t want it legal.

Keith says:

Re: Re: Craigslist and prositution

Perverted men would love to see it legal? What a narrow minded view. You said yourself that it wasnt given away that easy so what was it that you got that made you give it up? My guess is is that you may be a religous person, a zealot maybe even, so sex to you is rooted in morality rather than biology. When you stop thinking of Johns as perverts and prostitutes as sinners maybe you could see the real sin of keeping sex between two adults who happen not to agree with your puritanical views as empowering to women. Regulate it as with any other business and those who chose to do so could make good money, pay taxes, afford medical care and not have to worry about getting the crap beat out of them by some worthless pimp trying to get them hooked on heroin.
In my local newspaper there are hundreds of personal ads. Do you honestly think all of those people are looking for an honest loving committed relationship? Come on! As long as advertising for companionship is legal then Craigslist cant be held responsible real time for what might turn out to be illegal later. Just as Ebay cant know real time that a product may turn out to be a ripoff or defective. If someone advertised “sex for money” then I’m sure they would immediately remove the post just as Ebay might if someone advertised “fake Rolexs at real Rolex prices” Even if the intent of the add is clear until someone finds a way to vet every single ad then you start down the slippery slope of censorship. Theoretically two ads worded exactly the same could have two entirely different intentions.

Lucretious (profile) says:

Re: Re: Craigslist and prositution

As for prostitution itself, I am sure all of you perverted men out there would just love to see it legalized.

wow, and i thought I was the only one on this site with a simplistic and limited mental capacity.

How are men who seek the services of a protitute “perverted”? Do you even know what the word means? As I stated earlier, my wife passed away in 2000, I’m 46 and a single dad, I also don’t drink so I have no desire to go out to the local nightspots and put up with drunks and loud music. I am self employed and work 12 hour days at times. By the end of the day I’m exhausted. But, and maybe this is where you think its “perverted”, but i still get sexual urges….imagine that? To me, it makes far more sense to seek out the services of a young lady who is professional, uses protection, is clean and is in a safe environment. I get what I want, she gets what she wants. I have no hang-ups and I’m not ashamed that I do what I do. Its people like yourself who try to turn into into a dirty shameful thing and push it underground where it becomes entangled with organized crime, violence, drugs etc. So in that sense, yes, I would certainly like to see it become less of a moral issue and one of common sense.

The current method of treating prostitution makes about as much sense as how we treat drug addicts, as criminals. Remove the criminal trappings and the problem of drug addiction becomes that of a medical issue and the prisons lose half their population, AIDS transmission is reduced, deaths are reduced, public money is saved, etc. Remove the criminal trappings of prostitution and you do what much of northern europe has done, brought it out in the open thereby reducing STD’s, organized crime and a host of other social malady’s that comes along with illegal prostitution.

Steven says:

I'm suprised

i’m suprised no one has yt brought up rape

Tracy how many less people would be raped if prosiution was legal? some no a lot of people would still be raped im not dening that but how many people are raped simply because the guy was desperate? 20? 30%?

i think your problem is that you CAN NOT give yours away for free so your anoyed at other people that are sexy enough to sell it

b says:

Re: I'm suprised

Rape is an act of violence perpetrated against a person. It not an act of sex but of control and power. According to the CDC, “2/3 of rape victims report a prior relationship with the offender” and “one out of every six adult women has been a victim of rape” (http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/The%20Truth%20About%20Rape%20Final.pdf).
So, the victim is ‘the victim’ for a reason, not about sexual release. Why would a man (person) pay to ‘rape’ a prostitute? It is not about sex, it is about violence and control.

Do your homework and stop being as narrowminded and condescending as Tracy! You’re showing your immaturity.

Lucretious (profile) says:

The prostitutes on CL are mostly middle-aged women who have been doing their jobs for years. 99% insist on condoms and other safe-sex practices. The ones that don’t are usually outed and blackballed (no pun intended) by the males who use their services. I know because I see women there occasionally (spare me the lectures, I’m a single dad and my wife died in 2000, I’m 46 and have no desire to go trolling the bar scene just to get a little tension release).

Forcing CL to remove the ads will drive most of these women onto the street where drugs, violence and unsafe sex abound. Matter of fact its actually had a positive effect on removing street prostitution as CL ads can be easily placed from ones cell phone which bypasses the need to hang out on street corners making things dangerous for everyone involved (whether you care or not).

sexyladycougar says:

Re: prostitutes on CL

Thanks for your business, Lucretious 😉 Happy to be of service! I’m one of those “middle aged women”(51) but have only been escorting in my free time for 6 months. I’m having the time of my life! My motto: “Relax, it’s just sex!” What I offer is exactly what you are looking for…a fun, physical/sexual release without the baggage or intensity a full time relationship requires. Sometimes that’s what a guy needs. Hey, at $150 an hour, I cost less than a fancy night out on the town (and you may not get any anyway!) I’m a caring human being, intellegent, educated, fun to be with, and not a barfly. I have a real career, and I just happen to love the company of men. I get to know my guys, I am easy to talk to, I’m tender and passionate and know my subject (oh baby do I ever know my subject!) and I don’t judge. It’s a thrill to be considered sexy and desireable at my age! And of course it’s a huge help to my budget. Win-win for them and me.

I have no problem sharing my(pretty ordinary, sorta chubby by the way)body with the men who need me. Believe it or not, the feeling is mutual, and for some reason I have been very fortunate that I have only hooked up with sweet, considerate guys. They appreciate it so very much!

I agree; CL is a much safer place for soliciting…I’m in the safety of my own home, not on the street (would never go there anyway so this is perfect)not taking drugs and not being pimped…I do my homework on my fellas, require references, and practice safer sex. In return, I get to be with gentlemen who are classy, generous, and appreciate a woman’s company (and yes it’s ALWAYS for more than sex! They love to talk and share a meal with a woman who gives them all of her attention). If CL went away, there are other networks for “hobbyists” to go through to find a good “provider”, and for us to be sure we’re not going out with creeps or axe murderers.

Having said all that, I do not appreciate the vulgar, crass advertisements that the ladies post in my part of the world, and I flag them off as often as I have time. Nasty pics, hourly rates, “200 roses for gr33k”, all blatantly offering sexual services for money. What, are they stupid?? Hello! CL is a goldmine for cops just the way it is. Set up a sting on those girls, they deserve to get caught. My ads are genteel and humorous; I offer warm, cozy companionship for the evening, and when I get an inquiry I can email him, or direct the gent to my escort website where he can be filled in on the details. That’s not so hard to do, ladies!

Do I want to be taxed and monitored? Hell, no! Neither do my guys. They’ve paid taxes on their money already and are spending it on a girl. Big deal. No way would I submit to a government program that tested or monitored me. None of their beeswax! I take good care of myself, my doctor knows I’m VERY sexually active and is my partner in my health care.

Just a view from the other side of the fence, ladies and gents! (and Lucretious, look me up if you’re ever in the Pacific Northwest!)

Kevin says:

Shock and appalled

I am constantly amazed by the ignorance and hypocracy of our society and its self-delusional government. Why do we spend billions of dollars trying to stop anyone from doing things that they want to do and are going to do whether they are legal or not. There is a reason they call it the oldest professional. It is a victimless crime. They are both adults and free to make these choices for themselves. I know its terrible offensive to many but people want and need sex. Its a biological imperatives just like sleeping, eating and breathing. More for some and less for others, but an natural instinct none the less. For some paying for it is the only way they are going to get any at all. Who is our government or anyone individual to say they shouldn’t have that right. Maybe Elliot Spitzer has a new perspective on all this.

Maybe we should just all pray about it and God will give us the strength to resist our natural instincts. You know, like all those Catholic priest that molest children and nuns. See the church told them to abstain. How’d that work out?

Self-delusion, denial and hypocrisy that is what this country now stands for. God Bless American. Home of the water board, the wiretap and those that can’t be bothered. Land of the denial.

Anonymous Coward says:

There is no realistic way to eliminate prostitution. There will always be a demand, so there will always be a supply. Why not just recognize this? Legalize, license, and tax prostitution. Require periodic mandatory physical exams for the license. This would reduce the seedier side of if like pimps who get girls addicted to drugs and STDs. Spend the tax money going after real criminals like murderers, rapists, and child pornographers.

Celes says:

Re: Re:

As a lighthearted aside, I think many of those girls would be able to make a lot more money if they didn’t look like drug addicts…

Seriously, it makes more sense to legalize it than to drive it underground and help make it more dangerous than it has to be; it would conceivably even give the girls/women a lot more control over the situations they find themselves in.

Regarding moral views, if someone is unattached or has an agreement in a relationship that it’s OK, I don’t see the problem. To me it’s not very different from a man who buys the girl he met some gifts in the hopes of getting some.

Of course, even if I didn’t trust my husband (and I do), the poor guy couldn’t afford to pay to cheat on me. ^_~

Reailty Check says:

Be Careful...

Being a life-long resident of CT, I will offer some advice to those nay-sayers…be careful.

Blumenthal as a history of fighting the good fights and WINNING. He is one of the top AGs in the country and has won many lawsuits against companies, etc.

As for the legitimacy of it….there is a strong case. You cannot legally advertise prostitution in the classifieds on your local paper, so why do you feel as though you can post it in an online classified?

Oh wait…the argument thats its all about being online places it in an entirely different world, free from laws, etc.

Get real folks.

You cant offer to sell babies in online classifieds, nor can you sell yourself as a hitman/hitwoman. You cant sell illegal arms online, nor can you sell illicit drugs.

But prostitution is okay?….

Lucretious (profile) says:

Re: Be Careful...

@ Reality Check

Maybe you don’t quite understand how it works. First, “escort services” aren’t illegal so advertising for companionship can’t be outlawed (yet). Second, the ads don’t blatantly come across like “Blow Jobs $100” etc. Theres a lingo used by the sex worker community that gets the point across just fine while allowing the ads to remain perfectly legit. Also, states like RI where I live theres a pretty large loophole that allows adults to exchange services in the privacy of their homes as long as money isn’t mentioned so terms like “flowers” or butterfly’s” (use your imagination) etc are used in place of mentioning cash. Unless people are caught exchanging cash its perfectly legal. Imagine that? two adults making a decision for themselves behind closed doors that affects no one else…..amazing.

dorpass says:

Re: Be Careful...

“As for the legitimacy of it….there is a strong case. You cannot legally advertise prostitution in the classifieds on your local paper, so why do you feel as though you can post it in an online classified?
Oh wait…the argument thats its all about being online places it in an entirely different world, free from laws, etc.
Get real folks.”

Yes, please do get real and stop making stupid comparison. Newspapers edit their classifieds by default. Craigslist does not. In fact, Craigslist depends on people like YOU to flag inappropriate content. So while we are at it, Mr. Reality Check, we should sue YOU for not flagging those posts.

Reality Check says:

Re: Re: Be Careful...

How was my comparison a “stupid comparison”? What are you, like 10? Your reply/argument has absolutely no foundation.

You actually support my argument…craigslist DOES NOT check its classifieds….but IT SHOULD.

THAT is the whole foundation to the argument.

Craigslist has a list of prohibited items…however, what is the point of telling me “you cant post that here” if they are not going to enforce it?

The issue at hand is whether cragslist has the responsibility to check what is on their site, which they have failed to do. Similar suits have been brought against eBay and other online stores, all of which have resulted in the courts claiming that online sites are not free from the responsibility to ensure that what is posted on their site is within the realms of legality. It SHOULD NOT be left up to us to police the listings.

As for “escort services” being legal….come on now…if they were, do you think Spitzer would have been in as much trouble as he was?

DanC says:

Re: Re: Re: Be Careful...

Similar suits have been brought against eBay and other online stores, all of which have resulted in the courts claiming that online sites are not free from the responsibility to ensure that what is posted on their site is within the realms of legality.

eBay was the target of a class action lawsuit that accused the auction site of selling inauthentic sports memorabilia. The court found that eBay was not responsible for assuring the authenticity of the items.

A similar lawsuit involving bootlegged movies being listed on eBay ended in the same fashion.

So, in fact, it has been repeatedly upheld that eBay is not legally responsible for the items listed by its users.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Be Careful...

You actually support my argument…craigslist DOES NOT check its classifieds….but IT SHOULD.

That’s not what the law says.

And, if it did, it would open up a huge mess. Where do you stop?

Should the telephone company record everything that you say on the phone? Should your web host monitor everything you upload? Should your ISP read all your email?

Craigslist has a list of prohibited items…however, what is the point of telling me “you cant post that here” if they are not going to enforce it?

They do enforce it. If someone points out a problem item, they take it down, just as the law requires.

The issue at hand is whether cragslist has the responsibility to check what is on their site, which they have failed to do. Similar suits have been brought against eBay and other online stores, all of which have resulted in the courts claiming that online sites are not free from the responsibility to ensure that what is posted on their site is within the realms of legality. It SHOULD NOT be left up to us to police the listings.

Can you site such a case? eBay, just like Craigslist, has the responsibility to take down problematic content *after* they are alerted to the content. They are not responsible for policing it in real time.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Be Careful...

As for the legitimacy of it….there is a strong case. You cannot legally advertise prostitution in the classifieds on your local paper, so why do you feel as though you can post it in an online classified?

No one has said the posting was legal. They’re saying that it’s not Craigslist’s liability — it’s the person who posted the ad. That’s a pretty big difference.

Oh wait…the argument thats its all about being online places it in an entirely different world, free from laws, etc.

Actually, no, that’s not the argument at all. In fact, in the very post I made it clear that we were talking about a specific law, section 230 of the CDA, which points out the obvious: service providers are not liable for the actions of their users.

That doesn’t mean that the users themselves aren’t liable.

So I’m not sure where you get the idea that we’re saying online is an entirely different world free from laws… when I even MENTIONED the law in the post itself.


You cant offer to sell babies in online classifieds, nor can you sell yourself as a hitman/hitwoman. You cant sell illegal arms online, nor can you sell illicit drugs.

Indeed. And in all of those cases, the responsibility falls on the person who posted it… NOT Craigslist.

Try again.

John (profile) says:

Blame the companies

Like Mike implied in post #30, I think we should hold all companies responsible for what the users do with their products?

Drunk driving? Sue the beer companies and car companies. Oh, wait, they have a strong lobby.
Shooting someone with a gun? Sue the gun-maker. Oh, wait, they have a strong lobby also.
Overdosing on a drug which causes death? Sue the drug companies. Oh, wait, they have a strong lobby also.

The real moral of this story is that CraigsList (and other tech companies) need better lobbyists.

Even though some the readers of this site know about “safe harbor provisions”, it’s obvious that some other people do not.
Whether prostitution is illegal (or not) is irrelevant: CraigsList (and TechDirt) can’t be held responsible for what users post on its site. Period.

yeah its stupid, but it IS THE LAW says:

facilitation of criminal activities is the legal argument that any official can use to bring about charges.
just like they’re doing against torrent websites in many countries, craigslist needs to watch its material to make sure that illegal things are not occurring.
#55 is completely wrong. the fact that it is illegal IS the issue. everything else that goes on with the site is fine, and i love it like everyone else. its just stupid to have to look at sex ads everywhere.
any service that lets people say anything they want needs to monitor activity to prevent hate crimes (like against Jews above), obscenity, and make sure that no threats are being made or laws being broken.

i understand that it’s not always convenient to bring about charges, but sometimes companies need a little motivation to do what’s right that costs a little more.

if people would just stop making stupid arguments because they think the government should have no control on anyone’s actions, this forum would make more sense.

DanC says:

Re: Re:

facilitation of criminal activities is the legal argument that any official can use to bring about charges. just like they’re doing against torrent websites in many countries, craigslist needs to watch its material to make sure that illegal things are not occurring.

Yet in extremely similar circumstances, eBay has been found to not be liable for the posting of fraudulent items by its users. The facilitation requirement is not met, because craigslist does not pre-screen the user content. Via 47 U.S.C., craigslist is not “the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider”, and is therefore not responsible for that information.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

facilitation of criminal activities is the legal argument that any official can use to bring about charges

Only if the site is actively doing so. Since Craigslist is just an open bulletin board system, they are not guilty of such a thing.

Section 230 of the CDA is quite clear on this. It’s been tested in court case after court case after (including some involving Craigslist).

craigslist needs to watch its material to make sure that illegal things are not occurring

Again, the law says exactly the opposite, but thanks for playing.

any service that lets people say anything they want needs to monitor activity to prevent hate crimes (like against Jews above), obscenity, and make sure that no threats are being made or laws being broken

Again, this is simply not true. I again point you to section 230 of the CDA. If the site is alerted to such content, they should take it down, but they do not need to actively monitor it.

Your statement is simply false.

if people would just stop making stupid arguments because they think the government should have no control on anyone’s actions, this forum would make more sense.

Other than the fact that the “stupid arguments” are exactly correct under the law, whereas your statements are not.

brazenturkey says:

Brilliant

Absolutely brilliant commentary. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

As far as that Conneticut Attorney General Richard Blumenathal goes…I get the feeling that a few years from now (or maybe even sooner), we will be reading a story about him in the press regarding him *patronizing* prostitutes. Its always the self-righteous ones, shades of Eliot Spitzer.

BTW, legalize prostitution already.

Keith says:

Legalizing Prostitution

I meet a girl in a bar whom I don’t know. I offer to buy her dinner and drinks. We hit it off and after i pay the $100 tab we go back to her place and have sex.
I meet a girl in a bar whom I don’t know. I offer her $100 to go back to her place and have sex and we do. She takes the $100 and buys herself dinner and drinks after i leave.
One is legal the other isn’t. All sex costs money. Even in a committed marriage the subtleties of sex for “money” are there. What is a “lap” dance then? I can go to the local strip club and and pay a girl to simulate sex with me. Perfectly legal but if she is outside the building and i ask her if she will take money to simulate sex with me it’s illegal. Actually in the city i live in the former is legal but in the county it isn’t but the later is illegal in both.What about girls in Playboy or Hustler or a porn video. They are paid to pose and people pay for the mag or video for the purpose (generally) to bring themselves to orgasm alone. Nothing illegal about that at all. Pay that same model to stand in front of you while you bring yourself to orgasm alone and its illegal. Oh wait, isnt that what a peep show booth is? So in some places its legal and some it’s not.
Governments of all sizes can and do regulate how we can have sex with absolutely no regard to the absurd and contradictory nature of those regulations. They allow tens of millions to be made legally from sex while at the same time spending tens of millions jailing those who dont have sex in the proper way. Are porn actors not prostitutes simply because both get paid and its a two way transaction rather than a one way transaction? Take the final step and make it legal. Prostitution is not a victimless crime as some claim. Drugs, abuse, violence, diseases. Make it legal and many of those problems would dissapear. Just look at prohibition.
And to the person who thinks Jews control everything. As a Christian it makes me sick to think you put me in the same group as you. A hate crime pure and simple. Put the same energy into reconciliation and enlightenment as you do into hate and denial and you might realize how truly wonderful people really are.

Zed says:

Blaming Craigslist for content would eliminate all the unique ads and resulting entertainment like this guy selling DVD’s of questionable content.

http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/pho/621995076.html

The fun continues when you follow his (what he probably believes to be a cloaked link) to the site http://tinyurl.com/33x2l2 to see samples (NSFW) and then look at what kind of site they reside on. I don’t think anyone there is home over there as he plies his “goods”

Long live Craigslist and the idiots that post…

Keith says:

Re: Re:

Exactly Tim. Just goes to show how ridiculous this argument is. I run a transportation business. When I pick the hooker up at the airport that some man paid to fly across the country should i be sued for facilitating a violation of the Mann act? What about the airline? The Hotel where they are staying? Individuals are responsible for actions. People who want to sue the gun companies because guns kill forget that by that logic we should stop making pencils because I could stab and kill someone with one. We would all be living under a rock if if that argument were taken to its logical conclusion

Nathalia says:

How about Google and Yahoo!

If they want to shut down Craigslist based on content what’s to say of Google, Yahoo!, Altavista, MSN Search Engine, etc? Depending on what you type you will find the very same content. They’re all portals, they may function in different ways but they’re still portals. This politician’s statement – like most – is as useful as an oil lamp while scuba diving….

Irish2u says:

CraigsList BS

This is so pathetic Knowing what we know from MUCH older sites,AOL,MSN,Yahoo and others NO matter who starts what Their are those who will turn something good to something bad, and knowing all this when one starts all this now a .days they COVER their Backsides. But i say if your gonna spend so much time in putting up something then you go the time to invest in making it the best it can be and NUMBER 1 Protect people to the fullest.Craig won’t do nothing and play so called hard ball standing his ground UNTIL threaten by the LAW,But when it comes to JOE citizen their little or no effort to act on it and will come off with something LAME. Look way back when they use to appoint monitors who were giving the power to pull someone up with a warning or band them and even if you changed your name they had ways to know who you were rejecting you, But because jobs,titles can go to peoples heads thinking their all that and playing police and having a bad day when they may have been wrong and on a power trip , i think this is why it came to and end.;-(
As far as the latest on CL, he tried to hold his ground threatening a law suit but quickly decided to Close the Section, But see the prostitute are in every section and some more upfront then others, like in personals where 95+% ads are FAKES, Why has it been dealt with, its just people soliciting for prostitution, So maybe its Better to End those sections period.
Then you got all the People scamming people who are trying to sell something,selling fake items/knock offs and even ebay is full of them, their got to be better ways of protecting people.
Security verses CAPTCHA is BS, what a bad idea, its stops nothing, they get around it so whats the point of racking your brain to even read the code to type in ? Ive sometimes had to do it 5 or 6 times to get it right, Even BOTs got around it, so if they can so can others, I think theirs is something more behind it besides money and security.
I am just so sick of the people who lie to the people, from the white house down.Peace

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »