The Unbelievably True Story Of How Craigslist Murdered Over 100 People

from the the-real-killer-here-are-the-killers dept

It’s time to panic about Craigslist again. If it’s not a key player in the human trafficking scene, it’s the unwitting accomplice in over 100 murders.

[A]ccording to the Advanced Interactive Media Group, an industry watchdog and analyst, Craigslist passed the 100-murder mark just three weeks ago, when a 22-year-old man from Gary, Ind., attempted to rob the middle-aged couple who’d arranged to buy his car.

Frankly, I’m surprised the number isn’t higher. Not because Craigslist is the best thing that happened to pimps and murders since the invention of the internet, but because it encompasses nearly every major and minor city in the United States.

And, seriously: “Craigslist passed the 100-murder mark?” I realize “users of Craigslist passed the 100-murder mark” is a much clunkier sentence, but this sounds like it was written by a grandstanding sheriff, rather than a journalist.

Not only is it accessible by a vast majority of the US population, but its reach goes far beyond the buying and selling of goods. It also handles personal ads, searches for roommates and dozens of other ways for two strangers to meet face-to-face.

Sure, the voice behind this latest “let’s worry about Craigslist” isn’t a misguided government official or law enforcement officer with an anti-sex worker ax to grind. It’s AIM’s Peter Zollman, who’s put together a completely not-for-profit SafeTrade “initiative,” which helps set up safe areas for meetups and transactions, usually with the assistance of local law enforcement.

But to suggest this is a Craigslist problem — rather than a human being problem — is off-base. Nevertheless, Zollman makes this assertion:

Zollman and other critics say Craigslist has done “next to nothing” to encourage safe use or deter criminals. Among other things, the site doesn’t provide safety information unless a user explicitly seeks it out, and the company has not endorsed any third-party efforts — like Zollman’s own campaign to create “SafeTrade” spots at local police stations.

Zollman wants the site to make safety warnings more prominent and to get behind some sort of “safe trading” program, whether his or someone else’s. But his company’s tracking of “Craigslist murders” tries to imply it is somehow worse than the old system of classified ads in newspapers — which arguably led to an exponentially higher number of murders than Craigslist has, even given the limited, very local reach of most papers.

Zollman’s take on Craigslist is decidedly more measured than it was a few years ago, when he referred to it as a “cesspool of crime.” Unfortunately, his willingness to play into fearful narratives that sell better than more measured takes on the issue undercuts the sincerity of his “SafeTrade” offer. And it does nothing to dissuade law enforcement and other government officials from attacking Craigslist for the acts of a very, very, very slim minority of its users.

Even when Zollman takes into account the positives of Craigslist, he still undercuts his own arguments by saying things like the company’s “ethos of anonymity” makes it prime territory for criminal behavior — something that throws shade at Craigslist and anonymity, as if both of these elements were inherently suspect, rather than just being treated as so much thrown baby/bathwater by the SafeTrade founder.

Common sense and personal responsibility are in short supply, which is why people are always happy to suggest it’s the platforms they use that should be doing more, rather than doing anything of their own will and volition. Meeting a stranger always carries a risk. Doing so while carrying lots of cash even more so. (However, given the ubiquity of asset forfeiture programs, I’d be somewhat wary about taking large sums of cash to a police station…) I agree Craigslist should feature safety information more prominently, but then again, nothing in its warning is groundbreaking or otherwise unavailable to potential users.

And Zollman’s murder tracker would be a lot more honest if it were simply a list of people who’ve used Craigslist to facilitate their criminal acts, rather than giving the impression that Craigslist is somehow, in some very minimal way, responsible for these incidents.

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Companies: advanced interactive media group, craigslist

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Comments on “The Unbelievably True Story Of How Craigslist Murdered Over 100 People”

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DannyB (profile) says:

Safe Trade spots?

. . . like Zollman’s own campaign to create “SafeTrade” spots at local police stations.

I would feel safer trading in any other public space than at a police station.

I once thought so. But the police aren’t there to protect you. Even if you are perfectly law abiding, they are there to find something, anything that they can charge you with. Real, imagined or manufactured.

Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to the safety of somewhere not so close to a police station. Somewhere public, maybe with friends present or nearby.

mcinsand (profile) says:

Re: Carrie Fisher in 30 Rock episode

>I would feel safer trading in any other public space than at a police station.

This reminds me of an episode of 30 Rock with Carrie Fisher in a guest spot. Her character and Liz walk by a man with a gun. Liz reacts with a shocked ‘he’s got a gun!’ Then, Fisher’s character reassures her with ‘don’t worry, it’s not a cop.’

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Safe Trade spots?

The irony of course is that his SafeTrade group is totally redundant; anyone can go to their local precinct and meet someone; just put the station as your location in CraigsList.

And trading goods at a police station does have benefits: after all, they’re there to find something to charge you with, ergo the transaction is above board on the part of the seller. And the place is under heavy video surveillance, so should anything go wrong after the transaction is complete (the perp waits around outside and tails the other party home and does X), the police have some good footage to use to find them.

And at the station, the employees are too busy filling out paperwork behind glass walls to get involved with a peaceful transaction. The last thing they want is MORE paperwork.

Anonymous Coward says:

So out of the # of interactions craigslist facilitates, what does that make the odds of dying when I involve craigslist? Throw a couple more statistics in there, and it’s likely that it’d be statistically safer to be on craigslist than live within a mile of a bee hive or traveling for whatever I was on craigslist for. (not that I care about bee hives, like everyone else I have armed guards to protect me from death from bee and shark attacks).

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s funny cause I read “went over 100 murders!” and I’m like “what really? ONLY 100 murders that revolve around Craigslist up to this point??” That has to be such an astronomically small percentage of the population to make Craigslist safer than going to the supermarket given the userbase size.

Maybe we should be asking what is Craigslist doing right to have such a low statistical probability of getting murdered compared to legacy implementations of meeting people!

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Its the tool and not the user

How short sighted of you. Don’t you know that inanimate objects (Craigslist) can’t fight back? The people who run Craigslist will just seem defensive rather than righteous. Therefore, the hidden agenda (see some of the responses below) will be achieved…or so goes the argument in Zollman’s head.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What's the difference

You know that’s not a fair comparison.

You need to compare Craigslist to every newspaper and “nickel ads” paper everywhere, for as long as classified ads have existed.. Or even just as long as Craigslist has existed.

You’d think this problem would have come to national attention earlier, or not.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Perhaps we can find some hints…

So he knows how to write linkbaity stories without much vetting.

“My goals: To work with great people (colleagues and clients); keep my company profitable and growing; make more money and work not quite as hard; continue enjoying the daylights out of what I’m doing (as I do now).”

So it isn’t to protect the public, it is to protect his income.

His company publishes things that facilitates classified advertising, how many murders has he been complicit in?

As with most things, when someone is talking about the horrors of X look for the angle where they seek to profit from X.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wait a minute

You mean that since 9/11 Craigslist is responsible for more murders in the USA than terrorists?

Forget the war on Terror, wheres the war on Craigslist?

Why is their leader, Craig, not behind bars for running this murder list?

And what a sick-o list it is, when I looked on there I see one person advertising death by Chainsaw, lawnmowers, boats and even this one guy wanting to kill people with a bucket of rusty nails! The Chainsaw guy only needed $25 to pull of his murderous acts, crazy!

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

The Right Way To Provide A Safe Spot

Well, a sensible approach would be for the Department of Motor Vehicles to manage such transactions, because the DMV is situated to provide one-stop service. The buyer pays the DMV, probably in the form of a money order, if he doesn’t have banking accommodation, the DMV cuts a check to the seller, and effects the title and registration change, checks to see that the car isn’t stolen, and that the keys which the buyer receives work with the car. This covers not only the risk of robbery, but also the risk of people selling things which are not theirs to sell, or collecting the money and refusing to complete the legal transfer.

Blame Shift says:

The THING thats at fault

“[A]ccording to the Advanced Interactive Media Group, an industry watchdog and analyst, Craigslist passed the 100-murder mark just three weeks ago, when a 22-year-old man from Gary, Ind., attempted to rob the middle-aged couple who’d arranged to buy his car.”

About that car, what brand did the murderer use to facilitate the murder, and has that auto manufacturer hit their 100 murder accomplice milestone?

What breakfast cereal(s) gives the calories to burn and facilitate murders?

I imagine the very oxygen in the air acted as an accomplice.

taranctula (profile) says:

Craigslist is a Sponsor of Corporate Terrorism in the World

What took me and others a long time to figure out and define is that there is a new variety of terrorism around the world.This is terrorism sponsored by corporations where their product, service, or existence is a threat to people, communities, or nations with whom they have influence or audiences. Very often they are able to pay off government or law enforcement, or the press to keep this terrorism off the books and covered up.
The main purveyor of corporate sponsored terrorism in the United States, is Craigslist who recruits and arm terrorists through their terms of service. They call them flaggers but they are unknown terrorists who destroy ads and cause economic damage. They are rearmed themselves with illegal malware that circumvents the flagging system and in effect have hijacked the flagging system, They criminally stalk the ads daily and illegally remove ones they have a personal issue with. Craigslist sponsors this marauding and is daily recruiting more flaggers.
They call this community moderation but that’s the same words the Nazi’s used when they set up spy networks in regions under their control. Craigslist is promoting Nazi like conditions in America and has set up a vast terrorist/5th column network to make sure they are the only economically viable enterprise on their websites.
The Craigslist Advertisers Association has issued an extensive press release and copies are available by writing to Investigations are under way and a federal lawsuit charging Craigslist with sponsorship of international terrorism and criminal negligence will go into federal court. These rogue flaggers, comic book freaks, and black hatters who are terrorizing the advertisers are also going to be brought to justice and prosecuted. Anyone who has been illegally flagged is a victim of terrorism and eligible to participate in the lawsuit and receive a monetary compensation for economic loss and suffering.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Craigslist is a Sponsor of Corporate Terrorism in the World

You know, when you’re trying to be taken seriously among intelligent people, it’s traditional to back up your claims with evidence.

“They criminally stalk the ads daily and illegally remove ones they have a personal issue with”

Erm, wait… you’re saying that a company moderating their own service is evidence of criminal activity? Wow.

Jay Brown (profile) says:

Re: Re: Craigslist is a Sponsor of Corporate Terrorism in the World

THEY ARE not moderating anything, they have allowed terrorists who they don’t even know to control the content of the website, because all they are interested in is making money and preventing anyone else to do so. The Nazi had the same terms for their policies “community moderation”-instead of destroying ads they hauled people off to concentration camps and killed them. Craigslist is not an on line community its an alien nation that is a threat to national security. The sooner they are shut down, the safer everyone is going to be.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Craigslist is a Sponsor of Corporate Terrorism in the World

“They criminally stalk the ads daily and illegally remove ones”

“THEY ARE not moderating anything”

You know, your paranoid ramblings would have more effect if they contained any internal consistency. For the moment, you just look like a total loon who can’t even keep track of what he’s ranting about.

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