Media Campaign Against Craigslist Continues, As WaPo Writes Article About Its Own Anti-Craigslist Advertiser
from the conflict? dept
Last week, we wrote about how the misguided, politics-driven media campaign against Craigslist was ramping up again with a half-page ad in The Washington Post, obviously targeted at DC politicians. Paul Levy, who had sent over a scan of the ad now alerts us that the very next day, the Washington Post had a one-sided anti-Craigslist article, where it cites the ad. As Levy asks, has the Washington Post now stooped so low that buying a half-page ad gets you a one-sided story? Very disappointing move by the Washington Post.
The story, of course, is the same one that a bunch of politicians have been grandstanding over. There is prostitution on Craigslist. No doubt about it. Craigslist has set up a few different systems over the past couple of years to try to stop it, but of course, people always figure out ways to get around such blocks. The problem, now, is that all these politicians and media types seem to want to blame Craigslist, rather than blame the people actually involved in the prostitution rings. As we’ve noted time and time again, law enforcement agencies that work with Craigslist have found that it’s a great tool for fighting illegal prostitution and breaking up prostitution rings. Craigslist actually has set up a special interface for law enforcement to use for this purpose.
The Washington Post notes exactly none of this. Instead, it asks why Craig Newmark hasn’t responded to the “open letter” from a girl who was sold as an underage prostitute via the site a few years back (well before Craigslist set up these new restrictions). Separately, CNN ran a similar anti-Craigslist opinion piece written by the same group who bought the newspaper ads. At least CNN allowed Craigslist’s Jim Buckmaster an opening to reply.
Obviously, this is a topic that creates an emotional response in many — as it should. Underage girls forced into prostitution is a horrifying problem, and I’m all for doing anything possible to bring those actually responsible to justice. The problem is that putting the blame on Craigslist doesn’t do anything to help solve the problem. If anything, it will make it much worse. It certainly won’t stop those involved in forcing girls into prostitution rings. It certainly won’t stop those rings from operating. It certainly won’t stop the ability of individuals to find these rings via the internet. The only thing it will do is push that information further underground, to platforms and services that aren’t willing to work with law enforcement and don’t actually help efforts to stop such things. Blaming Craigslist is exactly the wrong approach and makes the problem worse. I read the open letter to Craig, and for very good reasons, it breaks your heart to hear about the horrible things that happened to these girls. But, in reading it, I can’t help but wonder why their anger and questions are directed at Craig, rather than those who sold them as prostitutes.