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.

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 30 Mar 2008 @ 9:01pm

    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.

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