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: blame, craigslist, prostitution, richard blumenthal
Companies: craigslist


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  1. icon
    John (profile), 30 Mar 2008 @ 3:21pm

    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.

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